Politics Schmolitics and Little Tea Pots

Like I assume most reading people of America did, I watched President’s Obama State of The Union speech and the following Republican response from Rep. Paul Ryan scary eyed Tea Party (though Republican) representative Michelle Bachmann. I thought Obama’s speech was pretty well done. In general, I always expect Obama to deliver well. He’s an orator and charismatic leader. His speech was heavy on story-telling¬† and focused on the future of America as opposed to any partisan wrangling. That was nice.

His speech also for the first time in a long time, avoided going for the moments that would require different sides to stand up and applaud. While some of that is to be expected, I appreciated him giving a speech that was more about listening, reflecting, and refocusing than it was about punchlines and ovations. I thought President Obama did a very good job of creating an optimistic environment for our nation. Though…

Though, I found his speech to be very short on specifics and ideas. Now, I read earlier today that Obama intends to specify his goals and plans in his upcoming budget request, so I can wait to find out what he’s got up his sleeve. Go Obama.

Let me be very upfront here: I find politics in general (speeches, grandstanding, etc) to be very uninteresting. For the most part, it all comes across as rhetoric and propoganda. I’ve never cared much for politics but the uber partisan nature of Washington right now and the Tea Party’s ascension to the national scene has made me realize that, well, people are pretty much insane. And this isn’t to say that I think President Obama is doing a bang up job. He’s doing a decent job as President but I do think his transparency could use some work. I read the health care bill. It was the most convoluted piece of legislation I’d seen in a long time. But I do believe in his vision and goals. But over all, politics doesn’t really move me. I wish it did, but it doesn’t. I do think that Obama has caused me to pay more attention, but at the end of the day, it’s all just the same…ole song. With a different beat since you’ve been gone.

With that said, Michelle Bachmann’s speech scared the living f*ck out of me. Or maybe it was just her. I don’t know. I can’t think straight. The hills have eyes and hers looked like she borrowed Satan’s contacts. Paul Ryan was political. Obama’s was visionary. Bachmann? She spoke in the language of the folks who don’t like to figure things out. She said quite simply, “Obama, you dropped the ball and are making America bad. Stop it.” And I think a large swath of Americans would be able to easily understand that message. She’s like Sarah Palin-lite. She even sounds like her. I can’t lie, people like her and Sarah Palin who are able to easily speak in a language of folks who don’t know any better in such a manner terrify me because those are people who like to vote and listen to non-sense or speeches that really don’t say anything but sound like they say a lot. Truth is, her speech was fairly benign. But something about her just really put me in a bad space.

I do find it interesting that Bachmann was able to give a message on behalf of the Tea Party when they’re all mostly Republican. To me, it kind of made the Republicans look a bit…disorganized to me even though the speeches weren’t that far apart. But it marks a combo of Ryan, who by all accounts i a very bright and smart guy, and Bachmann who looks like a renegade soccer mom who somehow ended up in Congress.

Overall, to me, they’re all just speeches and mean nothing until the wheels start turning.

Until then. A-ha, hush that fuss, everybody move to the back of the bus.

Good people of VSB (forgive my mental ramblings being a bit all over the place), what were your thoughts about the State of The Union address and the following messages from Republicans? Do you even care? How do you feel about this country’s prospects in 2011?

Talk to me.


Sticks And Stones: The power of words (and the danger of “going too far”)

Barring another snowpocalypse or Beyonce pregnant scare, “Your Degrees Won’t Keep You Warm at Night: The Very Smart Brothas Guide to Mating, Dating, and Fighting Crime,” is set to be released Jan 24th—11 very short days from today. And, as you may have imagined, I’m a nervous wreck to the point that I’ve had days in the past week where I had to employ each of my usual sure-fire stress relievers—working out, playing basketball, writing, sex, drinking rum, masturbation—within a 12 hour span just so I’d be able to get five consecutive hours of sleep.

But, among the dozens of questions swirling around in my head—“Will people actually buy it?”, “Are there any typos we missed?”, “Did I use the right back cover pic?”—there’s one that’s been especially unnerving:

“Did I go too far?”

I’ve mentioned before that the book is a pretty accurate representation of what can be found on VSB. The same language and tone and the same types of jokes, references, anecdotes, and asides Panama and I incorporate daily are found in “Your Degrees…“, and people familiar with us and our work will (hopefully) appreciate it.

Thing is, we tend to employ a certain type of humor that can also very easily anger, offend, and disgust if read with or without context; sh*t that has the potential to hurt and harm instead of heal and be seen as humorous. I especially push this appropriateness envelope. For instance, one of my chapters—I say “my” chapters because, like VSB, the book alternates. Some chapters are written just by me, some just by Panama, and some were a joint effort—include the lines “Your French manicured toes will get spit at and came on” and “I can imagine it being hard to be a rad fem or womanist with c*m on your nose” within a two paragraph span. In the context of the chapter, they make perfect sense and are a perfect fit. But, by themselves they’re, well, offensive as f*ck, and to be honest, I’m kind of struggling to accept the fact that there will be people genuinely offended and hurt by some of the things I say.

And, while I’m no stranger to toeing the “offensive line,” what separates the book from VSB is that the comment’s section here at least gives me an opportunity to explain a misinterpretation or defend a certain stance. The book gives me no such luxury. Once it’s out there it’s gone forever—with my real name and real picture on it!!!—and I’ll go from being an occasional critic to one who’s being actively assessed and critiqued.

Yet, the assessment and critique part isn’t the source of my anxiety. In fact, I can’t f*cking wait to be judged, lauded, ripped, and evaluated. It’s the lack of control that’s keeping me up at night; the fact that once the first book is bought and the first page is read, I’ll have no more absolute say over how my words are interpreted and understood.

Anyway, going back to that going too far” concept, there’s been another recent (and much more serious) development that has made the power of words and their myriad interpretations a central issue.

As Gabrielle Giffords continues to fight for her life, an argument is brewing that the Tucson mass shooting was partially caused by an anti-government atmosphere created by some of the more outspoken members of the Tea Party. In “The Tea Party and the Tucson Tragedy,” Slate.com’s Jacob Weisberg argues that Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck share a bit of culpability and blame with Jared Loughner:

Often the two issues are blurred together, because if government is illegitimate, rebellion is an appropriate response (hence the Colonial costumes). Conservative entertainers like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin like to titillate their audiences with hints of justified violence, including frequent reminders that they are armed and dangerous. Palin went so far as to put a target on someone who subsequently got shot. Whether or not the man who fired the gun was inspired by Palin isn’t the point. The point is that you shouldn’t paint targets on people, even in metaphor, or jest.

While I do agree with what he says—inflammatory words create inflammatory environments—I can’t fully get behind the idea that, while they’re definitely antagonistic (some would even say “vile”) people, the Palins, Becks, Sharon Angles, Andrew Breitbarts, and Michelle Malkins of the world should be held even partially accountable for the actions of an unquestionably deranged and nihilistic man. You do that, and every rapper who’s ever uttered the word “gun” should be held accountable for every inner-city murder, and everyone who’s ever produced, starred in, or directed a romantic comedy should be forced to pay the fees for any American’s divorce.

Still, I’m no idiot and neither are they. Each of these pundits and politicians are intelligent enough to know exactly how influential charged words and impassioned rhetoric can be, and my hope is that each of them are still human enough to at least admit to themselvesYou know, maybe I went a bit too far that time.” An apology isn’t as necessary as the realization and acceptance of the power of their words and the consequences of their word’s effect on others.

Then again, maybe they’ve already accepted this, and maybe they just don’t care. And, well,¬† maybe I need to learn how do to the same so I can finally get some f*cking sleep.

—The Champ

better than the alternative

i usually listen to one of my mix cds or my ipod during my 15 minute drive home from work. earlier in the week though, i’d grown tired of listening to “amazing” and “somewhere i belong” on repeat for the 82th time, so i decided to do the unfathomable…listen to the early evening (i occasionally listen to steve harvey in the mornings) urban radio station (WAMO) for the first time in approximately five months.

now, since i don’t listen to the radio or watch videos (i download all of my new music from blackgirl online and other adult message boards. no, seriously, lol. i’m soooo not playing), i wasn’t expecting to be able to immediately recognize most of the songs. what jarred and saddened me was the fact that not only had i never heard any of these songs before…i never even heard of the artists. not. one.

***and i couldnt understand sh*t any of them were saying. i felt like a white person trying to watch “the wire” for the first time***

that 17 minute listen made me feel as if i had aged 17 years overnight, lol, and was one of the many constant and blatantly perceptible signs that im getting old(er).

so, as a service from the verysmartbrothas (and ms. lizzard burr), the champ has decided to give you…

…four unmistakable signs that you’re getting old(er)

1. doing absolutely nothing…and loving it

when you’re young, if you happen to spend a weekend night in the crib, you usually spend the whole time wondering and fantasizing to death about all of the marvelous and slutty things other people your age are doing at the time. by the time i turned 26, i’d mutter “i should have stayed my ass at home” at least once during at least 75 percent of my outings.

now, i make up excuses not to go out.

naw man, i’m good. sportcenter highlights are always better when rece davis is the anchor, and he’s scheduled to appear on tonights show. i can’t miss that sh*t”

2. waking up with random pains

a few saturdays ago as i lazily crawled out of bed, intent on possibly setting the guiness world record for the least-productive 12 hour stretch, my first step on my carpet forced me to let out one of the most bitch-ass chill-emitting screeches that a grown-ass man could muster. no, i didnt step on a dead hooker piece of glass or a nail or anything…it was just my big toe, in about as much excruciating pain as a big toe could muster. what made it even worse (read: “more funny”) was the fact that i had absolutely no idea why my big toe was hurting. none. as far as i could remember it wasnt hurting when i went to bed. plus, i hadn’t done any ass kicking recently, so i definitely hadn’t injured my toe on someones deserving hindparts.

the pain eventually went away (and by “eventually” i mean “three days later“) as mysteriously as it came, like a 2 inch long, dark brown skinned gypsy. thing is, as saddening as it is to wake up with unexplained toe pain, it still pales in comparison to…

3….injuring yourself during sex

i know that intense sex may produce a little bit of pain, soreness, and tenderness, but lets just say that father time is f*cking with you when you say to your lover “you know, i think i might need to get an MRI tomorrow. i think i tore my ACL again” after a particularly heated romp in the sack.

4. liberal, schmeberal

vsb.com aint gonna turn into lashawn barber’s corner anytime soon, but i will admit that i’ve gotten more and more conservative socially as i’ve gotten older. at this point, it actually makes me physically recoil when thinking about my years of misguided militantism and lazily lethargic liberalism.¬† lets put it this way: the 19 year old champ, after hearing about her politics, would have given amy holmes the riot act and the heave-ho from his sack while the 29 year old champ would give it to her while she had a karl rove halloween mask taped on her back

thats it for now. slightly good people of vsb, what else would you add?

—the champ

question of the week: across the aisle

***paraphrased version of a question raised by a friend of the champ’s last week***

With the most important election of our lifetime coming up, its getting harder and harder for me to separate peoples political selves from their actual selves. I was able to compartmentalize before, but I’m so aggressively pro-Obama now that I can’t see myself even considering the idea of dating someone who wasn’t. Is this a bad that I feel this way?

–friend of the champ

you know what, i’m not even going to touch this one (yet). somewhat intelligent people of vsb.com, how would you answer her question. in regards to dating prospects and relationships, how important is politics to you?

—the champ