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Goodbye 2012: The 25 Biggest Fashion, Music, Sports Stories of the Year

Posted in Uncategorized on December 24, 2012 by beneaththeunderdog

Well we all dodged the Mayan’s bad calendar making and it’s time to look at the year in review.  It was hard to pare this list down to 25 memorable moments.  If you don’t like my list well tough…go make your own.  2012 was full of fun, the funny, the sad, and sadness.  Here are my top 25.  Enjoy.


1.  Kate Upton and the Cat Daddy Dance(close to 80 million views on Youtube)


Kate Upton has had quite a year.  She scored the coveted cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and appeared as a bikini clad nun in The Three Stooges movie.  While on a photo shoot earlier this year Ms. Upton (Kate if you’re nasty) took a break in between shoots to film this 24 second piece of heaven. Looped twice this video is 1:01.. and is the sexiest video you’ll ever see where the actress who is clothed.

2.  Kanye West Started the New Year Off With A …Well It Was Bizarre(Nearly 6 million followers on Twitter)

Yeezy must have been bored in London on the morning of January 5 because he suddenly…unexpectedly found the urge to tweet… and Tweet.. and TWEET.  For nearly two hours Ye tweeted on topics that ranged from his evolving fashion line, to his mother, to forming a think tank on education to … You name it he mentioned it.  Just as suddenly as the barrage began it ended after nearly 90 tweets.  I hope he was high or drunk because that ish was cray.

3.  Facebook Shows Its’ Privates,

by becoming a publicly traded entity.  There were high hopes for the social media giant, but concerns about advertising ability and doubts about the real number of users(some users have multiple pages) the stock suffered early on before plateauing later in the year.  Have no fear though, Zucks is far from going to the welfare line.

4.  Gagnam-mania(Youtube record +1 billion views)

Damn you Psy.  This annoying song swept the world.  We welcomed this ‘man’ into our country and the song on our airwaves.  Then the truth came out.  Psy was really a woman?  No.  Back in 2004, in a bit of a protest Psy sang(using that term very, very loosely) anti-American lyrics wishing for the deathsof our soldiers.  America responded to the 2004 lyrics like they did to the Gagnam lyrics.  Equally unimpressed and undeterred they continued dancing to the newest worldwide dance phenomenon. Oppan Gagnam Style!

Break-Ups, Make-Ups, and Kids

5.  Chriahhna reunites… I think…

See full size image

After the ass whooping heard ’round the world no one ever thought there was a chance that these two would ever reunite.  Well time, and new albums that need to be sold, heals all wounds.  The two have been not-so-subliminally sending love letters to each other via Twitter and have been seen not-so-inconspicuously canoodling every place where rich, under-talented, over-rewarded pop stars hang out.  I hope, for both of their sakes, that he leaves the punching and biting in the gym and on the video games this time around.

6.  Negative Ghost Rider:  This Tom-Kat Is Dead

Couch jumpers around the world cried after Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes announced their split.  They never seemed right together anyway(Chicks should never date dudes who are way… WAY shorter than they are).  Rumors of Scientology involvement abound but I think she just lost that lovin’ feeling.(I know…I know…)

7.  The Second Coming of… No, It’s Just Blu Ivy

NEW PHOTO: Beyonce's Baby Blue Ivy Sporting An Afro - Too Cute!

I can not recall a baby coming into the world with more fan fare.  Frankly, because I really don’t care(as long as I’m not the father).  Blu Ivy thwarted every attempt from the paparazzi until new parents Bey Z released a series of pictures a few weeks after Blu’s birth.  The collective sigh you heard was when we all realized that Blu had no resemblance to her father.

8.  Twihards Lose Their Camelot: Kristen Stewart Gets Caught Up

Kristen Stewart must have bored of Robert Pattinson’s overt moodiness because she cheated on him…outside… for all the world to see.  Stewart was caught grinding her the director of her new film, Snow White, while on location.  After the release of the pictures, she denied anyways before issuing a ‘heartfelt’ apology which Pattison immediately shunned.  Teenage girls everywhere cried foul.  the rest of the world rolled their eyes.


9. Newtown

Rarely do we see tragedy of a this magnitude in this country.  A gunman, who I refuse to name, entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and killed 26 people; twenty were children ages 6-7 years old.  The shock waves are still rolling through the country and show no signs of subsiding any time soon.

10.  Trayvon

PHOTO: Trayvon Martin, 17, was fatally shot by neighborhood watch leader George Zimmerman.

George Zimmerman saw Trayvon Martin as a threat and killed him.  When police arrived on the scene they found a gun on the ground along with Trayvon, who had iced tea and Skittles in his pockets.  Those are the only indisputable facts.  The rest is fogged by race, Stand Your Ground, and inept police work.  The trial starts in June.  The debate is still ongoing.

11. Zombiemania- The Zombies Are Coming Part I

Rudy Eugene was a normal American at some point.  When cops found his on the side of a Florida highway what they found would make Alfred Hitchcock blush.  Eugene was crouched and grunting as he tore chunks of flesh from his victims face.  He continued feeding even after the first two shots from the police’s guns tore through his body.  Bath salts entered the lexicon and over the next few weeks cases of cannibalism swept the nation.  Coincidentally garlic sales increased.

12.  ….and the Academy Award goes to…. Tony Farmer!!!!

Kids…don’t do crack.  More importantly, don’t kick, punch and drag your girlfriend by her hair.  Tony Farmer forgot that lesson.  The highly recruited high school basketball player felt it was a good idea to attack and scourge his ex-girlfriend in full view of security cameras.  If that wasn’t enough he continued to intimidate her via text after a protective order was granted against him.  During sentencing, Farmer was overcome with emotion and fainted thinking he’d been sentenced to seven years in prison.  His concurrent sentence means he’ll be out in three.

13.  JS… The Reason Child Rape Should Be Eligible For The Death Penalty

The former defensive coordinator of Penn State was convicted on 45 of the 48 counts levied against him.  This POS will hopefully spend the rest of his natural life behind bars.


14.  Whitney Houston

Like so many of our pop stars, Whitney’s life had become tabloid fodder.  Rambling interviews, odd public behavior, and canceled tour dates had taken a toll of Whitney’s public persona.  Drug and alcohol abuse rumors dogged her until the day of her death.  Whitney was found by a member of her entourage unresponsive in a bathtub in a hotel where she was preparing to sing as part of her latest comeback attempt.  Fittingly, she died on the evening before the Grammys.  The music industry had the first chance to publicly say goodbye to the Queen of Pop.

15.  Joe Pa

Nobody rocked the birth control glasses with more gusto and success than Joe Paterno.  He served as head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions for the better part of 50 years.  He survived as an icon coach at State College through slumps in recruiting and wins and kept the program largely relevant for most of his career.  It is this icon status that blurred his vision when he decided, according to reports, to turn a blind eye to child rape charges against one of his coaches.  JoePa was fired in November 2011 and died in January of this year.

16.  Don Cornelius

Arguably the greatest host in the history of television, Don Cornelius provided America with a heavy dose of funk, hip hop, R&B, disco, and rock on a weekly basis via the hippest ride on television, Soul Train.  The format was simple:  A big stage where the hottest stars performed their hit singles(often times lip synching), where young people were showcased wearing the latest fashions while performing the dances that would be seen in the clubs later that evening.  Soul Train was a tour de force during its heyday hosting legend like The Jacksons, James Brown, and Billy Idol(yes… Billy Idol).  Cornelius died in February from an apparent self inflicted gunshot wound.  Sad end for a true legend.

Pop Culture

17.  Call Me Maybe… Blame Canada

Justin Bieber makes me sick.  He’s dating one of the cutest girls from Hollywood, he has more money  than Oprah(not true), and he’s responsible for the biggest out-of-nowhere hit of the year.  Kind of.  During a trip home to sunny, warm Canada(not true…the sunny warm part) the Biebs and gal pal Selena Gomez heard Carly Rae Jepsen’s catchy tune on the radio.  They loved it so much they tweeted about it and the rest is history.  It will be hard to find a song that had heavier rotation than Call Me Maybe this year.  Thanks Bieber.  Next time keep your Twitter to yourself.

18.  Honey Boo Boo… The Zombies Are Coming Part II

Rarely does a show that is shot in America, using American characters that speak English need subtitles.  Honey Boo Boo bucks that trend.  Speaking with a deep country accent and fueled by Mountain Dew and ‘go-go juice’, Honey Boo Boo has been jibber-jabbering and gyrating on the television screen on her weekly show.  Boo Boo(Alana Thompson) was discovered on another show that featured kids who took part in pageants, and she’s been annoying everyone ever since.  After watching this show and hearing the mindless interactions of the family I pray that someone will come and bite me, kill me, and eat my brains.  Please?!!!

19.  Rolling in the Deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.  Adele Arrives.

Stealing Taylor Swift’s recipe for songwriting(dating a boy and then finding snazzy ways to rhyme your heart ache and pain melodically) Adele’s heart wrenching odes to loves past catapulted her to stardom.  Her latest album, 21, garnered her critical acclaim and box office success going double platinum in near record time.  Adele also earned 5 Grammys including album of the year.  On a side note, if I hear Rolling in the Deep again..ever.. I will go crazy.

20.  Who Knew That Grey Was So Versatile?  The 50 Shades Phenomenon


Rarely, has bad writing been received with so much fanfare(present blog being the exception).  Author E.L. James created the BDSM series after posting the books episodically on a website.  What followed was a feeding frenzy, mostly by women, clamoring for more from James  who wrote of the nasty and violent sexual escapades of Ana and Christian.   I’ve got to be honest, I was intrigued.  I never knew that so many women fantasized about whips and ball gags.  Then again, when has any man known what women really want?

21.  Gabby Douglas and Michael Phelps

Without a doubt these two athletes were the stars of the Games.    Gabby is the first African-American to win and medal in the individual all round gymnastics competition.  Other stories threatened to overshadow her accomplishments(her hair, and whether her dad is a deadbeat) but she handled the spotlight with grace and style and won over the hearts of America.  Phelps didn’t match his outburst of the ’08 games, but he did manage to win his 19th medal, which is the record by any individual.

Politics and News

22.  GOP Has the Worst Year Ever

The Republicans were poised to sweep everything this year.  The president’s popularity was down.  There was 0 momentum being built by the progressives.  The economy was in the tanks and jobs were disappearing as fast as the panties of starlets who were getting out of cars where paparazzi lenses were trained on their crotches.  So what does a party do when the game is handed to them on a silver platter?  That’s right, they fumble.  First, they struggled to define what rape is; one GOP infamously quipping about legitimate rape, while another claimed that pregnancy from rape was a blessing from God.  There were more shenanigans which leads us to…

23.  The Empty Chair

We all have that old person in our family who’s a bit out of it.  Sometimes they are  lucid and sometimes they may say or do something that reminds us of the old days.  But mostly they are awkward and somewhat scary.  Well, if this doesn’t ring a bell then let me introduce you to Clint Eastwood.  The secret GOP convention speaker was never vetted or prepped and what ensued will go down in history.. the bad side of history.  Eastwood rambled on and on and on in a sometimes incoherent soliloquy that left the crowd confused and the GOP organizers scrambling for an excuse.  Eastwood’s  conversation with an empty chair (supposedly holding Obama or Obama’s ghost) was part humor, part scary, and all weird.  Time for granddad to take his meds.  But there were even more shenanigans which leads us to…

24.  Can I Have a Mulligan?  The 47% Debacle

You ever talk ish about someone just to turn around and they were there listening the whole time?  Mitt Romney knows.  Speaking to a group of supporters and fundraisers Romney thought he was safe amongst friend.  Little did he know someone had stashed a video camera on the buffet table and the rest is political history.  Romney’s infamous “47 percent” remark — referring to the vast swath of the electorate who Romney felt he had no chance of attracting, because of the fact they paid no federal income tax..and didn’t want to work…and wanted the government to take care of them was in fact galvanized by his remarks.  They showed their will in November.

25.  Yes Sir, I’ll Have Another.  The Hip Hop Presidents Wins Reelection

Barack Obama won reelection again this year.  He overcame a lackluster first debate, bad jobs numbers, a sluggish economy, and Biden’s ‘malarkey’ remarks to again win the top election garnering 50%+ of the popular vote.  Don’t cheer for him just yet.  He still has to try to solidify his legacy while working with a GOP plagued Congress that seems more bent on destroying that legacy even if it costs Americans money, jobs and health care.



Wonderfully Ordinary

Posted in parenting, personal, Uncategorized on October 22, 2012 by beneaththeunderdog

Post image for The Epidemic of Busy-ness

The growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.– George Eliot

It’s early fall and it’s time for the end of the first series of the myriad activities that consume our kids.  I’ve spent the better part of this morning listening to a coworker whine about  having a 6 year old kid signed up for soccer and t-ball.  Each sport has at least one practice and one game a week.  It’s a rather tame schedule until one considers that he also has a four year old son who has a budding interest in soccer, and a two year son who loves to throw all kinds of things(including his food).  Oh yea, and the plans to enroll the oldest two in Japanese classes and the martial arts classes currently being vetted.  He and his wife each work at least 40 hours a week.  Then there are the orthodontists visits and carpool duty and playdates and  housework and yardwork.

There is something completely troubling about this to me.

I’m sitting here in my living room enjoying lunch and down time as part of a  self-imposed sabbatical from anything that resembles work or responsibility.  On the south side of my apartment I have a view of a lazy lake where people take their boats and kayaks and canoes on drowsy voyages to… somewhere.  To the north I can see the normal hustle and bustle that usually slams along down Ocean View Avenue; most cars going well above the prescribed 35 mph speed limit.

It is a tale of two worlds.  One world in hyper drive and the other at the mercy of the pace of the gentle low tide current.  Worlds seperated only by an acre and a half.

People can be likely divided.  There are those who are seem perfectly content with going along in life  winding up wherever the wind blows them like some seed from a dandelion head.  Then there are those who are inexorably driven by some unseen yet unrelenting force to go faster..farther.. achieve more… now.

What drives these people?  What makes them drive their kids to seemingly achieve more… more …. MORE… NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the ordinary and extraoradinary lately.  Is there any room for the kid – or adult- who enjoys a pickup game of basketball  but is far from being an NBA lottery pick with an eight figure shoe deal, who will be a good citizen and parent and friend, but won’t set the world on fire otherwise?

Let me start off by saying, in the spirit of full dislosure, that I do not have any children.  I want children one day, but there is a certain part of me that dreads the idea of bringing an innocent being into such a tepid, fickle, and unoriginal world.  But, I digress; I was talking about ordinary in respects to the kids.

Most times, I find, from the second a child is born he’s told how special and beautiful and exceptional he is.  To me, it’s the start of unconsciously conditioning a child to value style over substance; or to covet accolades more than real achievement.  Why aren’t parents teaching their kids the value of character and hard work, while also giving their kids the straight truth: that their lives, no matter how well meaning they are, will probably be spent in relative obscurity and normalcy.

There I said it.  Most of you will have very normal…very average kids.  Hell, most of you will lead average lives. 

The scandal.

When did being ordinary become such a bad thing?  What seperates the extraordinary from the seeming ne’er-do-wells?  Most often the answer is mere chance. 

Would Michael Jordan be a household name if he hadn’t been cut from his high school team?  Would Mozart be a timeless icon if his dad had pushed him to learn the tuba instead of the piano?  Would Einstein be legendary if he had not been commisioned to manipulate the atom?

The answer to all of those questions is simply no.  They were just like us.  Good at what we do, but waiting on an opportunity to be more.  For the large, vast majority who never get that opportunity or squander them as they come along are we failures?

The answer to most of us who live and exist in this Pimp My Ride/Cribs/Reality Show Celebrity society the answer is yes.  So, while we wait for that watershed moment to happen that promises fame and fourtune, we try to create a world where people think we’re sought after and needed. 

The business of busyness is real, and it is affecting and swallowing us whole.  What’s worse is that we feed our kids this notion that if they are do things like…being a teenager then they are falling behind their peers.

There was a time in my life where I was poor of everything but youth.  I used to buy little date books and fantasize about being the type of man who would actually need to use one. I would write things in it that I already knew in my head just because I thought that people who were worth something used those sorts of things.   I remember now the boy that dreamed he was something more than a guy trying to find his way as a Marine, a cable installer, an electronics technician, a shipyard worker, until I finally learned to be comfortable with myself in the space I occupied.  I will never give up on my dreams, but Ialso decided a long time ago to not be consumed or defined by them. It was a selfish life I lived when I was poor of everything. At least today I can say it is only money that I am poor of.

Fear Is The Greatest Enemy Of Feminism

Posted in African American Interests, feminism, relationships, Uncategorized on March 18, 2012 by beneaththeunderdog

“So de white man throw down de load and tell de nigger man tuh pick it up. He pick it up because he have to, but he don’t tote it. He hand it to his womenfolks. De nigger woman is de mule uh de world so fur as Ah can see.”    Zora Neale Hurston  “Their Eyes Were Watching God”

As a black man, my relationship with feminism is an odd one.

Let me qualify that.  It frustrates me that whenever I try to understand a subject or to explain it I do so through the lens of being a black man. In other words, I find it difficult to vet myself as a human without attaching my color.  In this instance my experiences are seen through a certain lens and perspective.

That perspective and lens is the examination of the relationship between right and wrong, rich and poor etc.  My quest is to just be… to just exist in a system and a world that wants me to emote under the veil of color blindness, while the rules never allow me to forget that I am Black.  So in an attempt to embrace alienation while simultaneously trying to eliminate it, from now on when I say ‘as a man’  I’m including all factors.  Most important for me, being Black.

This brings me back to my relationship with feminism.  I grew up with all types of men who never cared to  amalgamate how their words and deeds equalled to repression.  They were men, and their fathers taught them the lessons that had been passed down.  Most knew they were wrong  in action and deed, but they all seemed to pre-occupied or lacked the personal courage to be the impetus for change.

Luckily, through world travel and being a Marine, I have learned to strike down the stereotypes and unproven fears that serve to stymie the progress of women.  Women are just as much our equal.  Even though they make less money than we do and have to work twice as hard as men to prove their mettle.

My brothers, friends and family members, continue to rebuff my renaissance ideas about women and their, women’s, relegated place in society.  I can not blame them.  I used to be one of them.  The idea is as old as time.

There is, I think, a deeper reason for men who shun feminism as some hyper-liberal form of women wanting to be men.  I think it is rooted in the survival instinct of all of those who have the latter chromosome.  It is this:  if women have every right, advantage and privilege that men enjoy, what trump card will we hold when all factors are made equal?  It is this need for dichotomies, no matter how false or sopho-moronic, that helps them control the arguments which usually disintegrates into marathon bitching and moaning sessions.

It is a shame.  Too many people fail to realize that if all people were treated as equal then the quality of life on this planet would increase.  Not kings.  Not bitches.  Not dummies.  Just human beings.  Simply being born without a penis should hold no  disadvantages for women save for the ability to stand up and pee.

Women, not just black women, are the mules of the world.  They carry our  expectations, shortcomings, requirements, ridicule, and failures on their back. Most women never complain.  The too have been brainwashed by the old guard of men who have done the work to poison the sown seeds of prosperity  it is high time that someone spoke up for these unsung heroes.

What Exactly is Wife Material?

Posted in African American Interests, mariage, relationships, Uncategorized on March 17, 2012 by beneaththeunderdog

Stop me if you’ve heard this before.  Man meets woman.  They fall in love.  They move in together.  They pick drapes and plates.  They get engaged.  She’s thrilled and he’s just ok.  They are still engaged.  Still engaged.  Still engaged.  Still engaged.  Man calls off engagement and leaves woman and all she has left is ugly drapes and brittle plates.  Man finds new girlfriend, impregnate her and marries her right away.

This scenario plays itself out all the time.  To the great pain and mental detriment of women the world over, men seem to be leaving seemingly happy and ‘perfect’ existences in favor of other pastures.  Often time the women that the men were with initially are decidedly more attractive.  So what gives?  What makes a woman more desirable than another?  Are men actually shallow creatures?  What exactly is wife material?

A few answers can be found by looking at the studies of scientists and sociologists.  In a British study 3,500 men were asked about their fiancée only 20% used words such as ‘sexy’ or ‘gorgeous’.  The others focussed on their girlfriend’s personalities.  This suggests, that by and large, that a woman who is naturally beautiful is at a distinct and quite measurable disadvantage when it comes to marriageability.  Men seemingly prefer substance over status when it comes to marriage and the women they prefer to have children with.


Further evidence can be seen through studies about choosing a mate.  Women seem to base their decisions on a mate on a loss vs reward threshold.  Women, according to the study, choose a man based on his looks, next to her looks and the chances that she can lose him to another woman.  So a man must fit between a tolerable high/low scale to even have a chance.  A man, on the other hand, has a broader range.  He is more likely to date or mate with less desirable and less attractive women.  It is proven that during dating cycles men care more about a woman’s face, but her body type is more important when it comes to marriage.  So all of you women who are searching for a husband better throw away that M.A.C. makeup and pick up a taebo class or two.

Polling the men who work with me I found five universal traits that men are looking for:

  • Can You Burn?  Yes this is 2012 before you say anything.  Men do still expect a woman to perform traditional duties such as cook.  Most men have ben pampered by the women in their lives so a woman who can’t or won’t cook is at a distinct disadvantage when encountering a man like this.
  • Do You Like Family?  Men do not want to bring women into their lives who are going to cause friction with his own family. Equally troubling are women with daddy/mommy issues who are estranged from or engaged in battle with her own family.  Men want a seamless transition whenever it is time to blend the groups.  Also, men want their own family; a drama free, and happy family.
  • Are You a Go Getter?  Do yo want things out of life or are you happy with the level you are at now?  If you have no goals, then how can you dream with your man?   Real men do not want to be babysitters or dads to their girlfriends.
  • Do You Upgrade Me?  Being equally yoked is important.  Being equally invested in the overall happiness, direction, and health of the relationship is important.  You love him and he will love you back.
  • Will You Age Like Wine or Vinegar?  Do you have that ‘everything’ for all time’ quality?  Is this love or lust?  Can I see us rocking on the porch drinking ice tea when we are old?  Are you graceful?  This part you can not fake.  It will be obvious to both of you.

There are no sure-fire ways to get and keep a man.  Ultimately if he is going to stay he is going to stay.  Knowing the secrets will give you an advantage over your competition.  Men are seemingly simple creatures, but inside stirs a lot of emotion.  It is up to you to make him want you.  Afterall, we don’t know better.

Tao of a Redskins Fan

Posted in Uncategorized on March 16, 2012 by beneaththeunderdog

There are titles that one can say are callings.  There are things that people are just born to be; tasks that they are born to perform.  Burdens that they are born to carry.  These things…the titles or burdens aren’t scribbled on construction paper in the kindergartens in America.  How many times have you heard a kid say they wanted to be a priest?  United States Marine?  Used Car Salesman?  It just doesn’t happen.


I hold such a title: Redskins fan.  See, if that didn’t illicit any kind of tingle in your spine there definitely was scorn, embarrassment, laughter or pity.  Maybe all of those things flashed inside your mind.  It, being an undying and unapologetic Redskins fan, is a cross to bare.  But I do it everyday.  I wear my ‘skins hat with pride and defend them vigorously from all naysayers.  Men… women… the erogenous zones mean nothing.  If you criticize any one of my burgundy and gold brothers you will feel my verbal wrath.  Small children…babies.  no one is safe from my verbal sword.


Every year a stupor..a lethargy washes over me around March-April.  The Redskins usually do just enough to win the preseason Super Bowl.  We sign all of the sexy and splashy free agents.  We welcome our new players with the greatest pomp and circumstance.  Then September rolls around  and our annual marathon of doing enough to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory begins.    Up by 5 with under 4 minutes to go?  Why not throw an interception on our own end and build an unfettered pathway for them to their end zone.

Get knocked down on a play?  No worries, just lay down on the field as the quarterback weaves his way around you on his way to the end zone.  You are a Redskin, and over the last 20 years we have perfected the art of nothingness and you better do your part to preserve our history.

Hogs Haven

It’s March and as usual we are making a splash.  A blockbuster deal to get our next franchise quarterback.  Heath Shuler comes to mind.  We’ve signed a great wide receiver to catch the passes from our new savior.  He will not be like Michael Westbrook… hopefully.  We have a surefire hall of fame coach.  Forget the Steve Spurrier experiment.  I am ready to go.  September can not get here fast enough.  I just hope we signed another ortho doctor to help with the carnage of broken limbs and shredded ligaments that will ensure our 26th consecutive season of mediocrity.  Go Skins!

Things could be worse.  We could have the Steelers cheerleaders.

Time to Think Regionally: 7 Cities Today, Norfolk Metro Tomorrow

Posted in Uncategorized on March 16, 2012 by beneaththeunderdog

You ever ride down Virginia Beach Blvd  near Newtown Road and feel a thump-thump underneath your car?   You ever get confused when going to a concert wondering which one of the amphitheaters or venues to go to?    Tired of living in a city that often gets overlooked for new business opportunities and prestige that seem to always go to Virginia Beach and Norfolk?  Wondering why  the Tide stops in the middle of a residential area and does not stretch from the NOB to the Oceanfront?  Well, most of us are tired of and confused by these issues and a lot more.  Companies all over this land are combining forces.  The idea of ‘a little bit of something is a lot better than a whole lot of nothing’ is sweeping Wall Street.  Mergers of large technical and financial companies are happening at a record pace, making the landscape for small and medium-sized companies into a desert with nary a mirage in sight.  The same can be said about the metropolitan areas in America.  The top ten largest cities in the U.S.  is a venerable who’s-who list of industry, politics, economics and clout.

Rank City State Population  
1 New York City New York 8,175,133  
2 Los Angeles California 3,792,621  
3 Chicago Illinois 2,695,598  
4 Houston Texas 2,099,451  
5 Philadelphia Pennsylvania 1,526,006  
6 Phoenix Arizona 1,445,632  
7 San Antonio Texas 1,327,407  
8 San Diego California 1,307,402  
9 Dallas Texas 1,197,816  
10 San Jose California 945,942

One has to conclude that the federal government and large corporations give more favor to our larger cities.  How can Hampton Roads capitalize on such good fortune?  Let’s look at that chart with the 7 cities’ and their populations combined.  (Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Suffolk,  and Portsmouth).

Rank City State Population  
1 New York City New York 8,175,133  
2 Los Angeles California 3,792,621  
3 Chicago Illinois 2,695,598  
4 Houston Texas 2,099,451  
5 Philadelphia Pennsylvania 1,526,006  
6 Phoenix Arizona 1,445,632  
7 Norfolk  Metro Virginia 1,401,281  
8 San Antonio Texas 1,327,407  
9 San Diego California 1,307,402  
10 Dallas Texas 1,197,816

This would make Norfolk Metro the seventh largest city in the United States.  Strategically and geographically New York would be our only competition on the entire eastern seaboard, and because of the deep ports and industries already established here we would have an advantage in several key areas.  There are key roadblocks that will keep this from happening.

People Don’t Want a Regional Government:  The meer mention of combining cities brings out the worst fears in everyone.  Will Suffolk, with its small population, have as much of a voice and influence as the larger cities?  Who is going to deflect Newport News’ crime and poverty numbers?  Who will be responsible for elevating Norfolk’s schools and test scores?  Will Virginia Beach have to share their considerable cash advantage with everyone?

These are really important questions that need honest and tough answers.   The sacrifice will be less that rewards we reap as an area.  The network of schools, hospitals, and civilian services(police and fire) really would not have to be touched.  Quality of life most definitely improve for all over time.  Some people could see a minimal  reduction in quality of life i.e. increased traffic or increased building that would not have existed before the merger.

What’s First?  Light Rail is the first spoke in the wheel to improvement.  The cities are segregated because of a circuit of roads and bridge that serve individual communities but do little to nothing to improve travel and commuting from city to city.  Light Rail will, eventually, be an artery that seamlessly links Portsmouth to the oceanfront.  Williamsburg to the Norfolk Naval Base.  Great Bridge to Waterside.  The only links between these distant locales now is a myriad of congested roads.  Light Rail will make these trips more palatable and frequent.

Next, regionally there are no real convenient links to our closest competitors in Raleigh, Charlotte, or Washington D.C.  Creating more convenient routes to these cities will create more convenient routes to our area.  We are essentially cut off from the rest of the larger region and realistically cut out of the economic and industrial possibilities that often go to other cities.  Widening the highways and the creation of more direct paths to our competitors by way of rail(Amtrak) and air(improving and expanding the Norfolk airport) will only serve to help the area.

Norfolk Scope2.JPG

Conclusion.  We are decades from realizing our potential as a major city.  The facts are it will take almost a decade of state and federal wrangling to allow the cities to combine.  After that it will take decades to make the improvements that are outlined in this essay and the myriad other things that have to happen to make this venture profitable and impactful.  The first step has to come in the form of reconciliation and the creation of a regional adventurers spirit.  On paper it works.  Just like anything else that is put in blueprint form one needs an architect to make those plans a reality.  Who or what will be the spark to get this ball rolling?

The Brighter Side of Darkness: Love Jones Resonates…Still

Posted in Uncategorized on March 16, 2012 by beneaththeunderdog

What Is Love Jones?

‘gravitational pull, rendering one helpless to its power’

Stylish black movies are rare.  Black movies that fail to mention guns, thugs, rap, hookers and hoods is even rarer.  Slinky, smart and sexy Love Jones breathed new life into the ‘boy meets girl’ story by adding a healthy dose of sultry poetry and a pinch of spice with a soundtrack laced with smooth jazz.  The result is a delicious dish of black love served in a dish that is 90s Chicago.

Today is the 15th anniversary of Theodore Witcher’s debut, and only, film.  Love Jones follows a group of middle-class black artists and professionals–which is to say, it shows a world more unfamiliar to moviegoers than the far side of the moon.  Darius Lovehall, played masterfully by Larenz Tate, is a poet/author who pursues and conquers the venerable and sultry photographer Nina Mosely, played by Nia Long.  The magic that ensues is…palpable.

Love Jones:  The Story

 ‘they call me brother to the night.  and right now i’m the blues in your left thigh trying to become the funk in your right. is that alright?’

I love this movie for everything that it is not.  It is not another portrayal of desperate black women and ignorant stupid black men.  These characters have substance and style more akin to the majority of the African-American population. It is not a movie masquerading as something serious set to the hyper-violent and misogynistic hip hop soundtrack.   This movie has depth of character and story and is filmed using metaphors that are both straightforward and subtle.  It  does not pander to an audience.  It dares to tell a story in an uncoventional, un-Hollywood manner using characters that do not look like the usual fare who play in complex, layered, dramatic films.


The mood is well conjured; cool, enticing and magically bourgeois.  The story takes place in Chicago but one cannot escape the feeling that the director was trying to capture and recreate the feeling and momentum of the Harlem Black Renaissance.  The characters in the movie are all in some state of post-college, pre-career status trying to find their way in the world.  While they find their place they form a sibling-like bond with each other and explore deep issues such as love, how to find love, how to maintain love, and the lengths one should go to maintain love.

The relationship between Darius and Nina is sensuous.  From their first encounter in The Sanctuary, a poetry/jazz bar, their chemistry is electric.  Darius lets Nina know his feelings after renaming his poem A Blues for Nina exclaim in at one point that he was a sight raped hunter blindly pursuing his prey.  From that point forward the heat and steam that ensues between these two never lets up.

At a time when Black movies were hyper violent (Menace to Society, Boyz in the Hood), stereotypical (Waiting to Exhale),or just banal (Booty Call), Love Jones dared to be original in all of the right ways. To say that there is a need for more movies like this coming out of Hollywood would be a gross understatement.   To see a named Black actors in movies that are sans gross comedy, cross dressers, or halting stereotypes are rare.  Maybe we can dream that Tyler Perry and Spike Lee can drop their beef and get busy creating art that tries to capture the spirit of Witcher’s work.