ebogjonson.com's media archive

things relating and/or pertaining to the business and theory of media; special attention to questions of identity, technology, race and such

March 26, 2007

me and shirley q liquor

shirley q liquor is not that funny

Not really, but I did get quoted in a Lexington Herald Leader article about Charles Knipp's blackface act:

The debate over Shirley Q. Liquor -- for the most part previously confined to the black and gay media -- is about to spill over into the mainstream, with among other things a profile in Rolling Stone magazine. The issues have raised questions about whether Knipp is shining light on something that the rest of the country has politely refused to discuss for decades. It has called into question the motives, as well, of his audience. That is, if we laugh at Knipp, who are we deep down, anyway?

"Blackface is a charged and wild symbol," says journalist Gary Dauphin, who is black. "It gets out of your control quickly no matter your intentions."

Dauphin, a film critic for The Village Voice and for Essence and Vibe magazines, has written extensively on race and blackface. The problem with Knipp is that he doesn't realize that "things are bigger than his intentions," Dauphin says. "You have to have the maturity to say some things are bigger than me."

[...]

Many in the black community, even when not backing Knipp, do not support Cannick's protest.

"I'm not interested in banning and boycotts," says Dauphin, the journalist, adding that he doesn't think Knipp is a racist, but "I do think he's being kind of a jerk." [full article]

[Sweet, sweet networking! Those of you wondering how they found me in Kentucky can blame this gent, as he also writes for the Herald Leader.]

Three comments: First off, I don't remember, but I hope that what I really said was "I do think he's being kind of an asshole," as that gets you closer to my thinking than the wan, family-paper-friendly phrase "jerk."

Second, I was a film critic for the Village Voice once upon a time. I'm not any more and although I worked at the Voice for about a decade my back goes up a little anytime it shows up in a bio, especially after Voice stalwarts Greg Tate and J. Hoberman chose not to include me in their Voice 50th anniversary recaps. Such are the vicissitudes of institutional memory and crewism, and, anyway, given the VV's current sorry state I'm fine with striking it from the record. Was, is what I'm saying.

Lastly, it's not that I "do not support Cannick's protest," it's that "I'm not interested in banning and boycotts," especially media-related bannings and boycotts. I know I'm splitting a hair, and that I blog about media-related outrages all the time, but I'm pretty much of the First Ammendment absolutist, "bad speech calls for good speech" school. I also view the boycott as being most appropriate for addressing corporate, institutional or labor-practice level issues. Boycotting, like, a dude strikes me as being a bit like breaking-up with him; it's personal and involves dynamics of betrayal and rejection that make me hesitant to label my refusal to consume or patronize said dude's comedy a "boycott," this even if I get a 1000 other people to join me.

I also have to confess to long harboring a fear that we go after offensive images only after we've lost every possible other battle. (That, or we've won every other battle, and so have the leisure to focus on glamour outrages like who won an Oscar.) Happy-go-lucky media people tend to be more liberal, more susceptible to shaming and easier to stare down than, say, fundamentalist terrorists and warmongers who think god talks to them, and so whenever I meet a self-described "media activist" I'm like: what? Working on housing equality involve too much heavy lifting?

But I'm exaggerating and self-denigrating, of course. Keeping folks honest about their racism is important work and I'm glad people like Jasmyne Cannick are out there doing it. I think it's fine to educate people about Shirley Q. Liquor and to also urge them not to give Charles Knipp their money, I just dunno if you will be able to get me up on a Saturday morning to physically picket a comedy club. But e-picket? (iPicket?) Absolutely. That not only jibes with my own slothful, late-sleeping habits, but the frame - word vs. word, image vs. image, code vs. code - strikes me as being better aligned as well.

Posted by ebogjonson at 10:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

December 7, 2006

rips James Kim

I didn't know James Kim (or at least don't think I did), but I've learned from the forwarding tree that five or so folks I do know either went to Oberlin with Kim or worked with him on tech/gadget stuff. The story of his death - staying put and keeping his family warm, venturing out only once they had run out of fuel, dying a mile from where he started after walking though 8 miles of snow drifts in tennis shoes and street clothes - binds a world of inspirations, lessons and tragedies up into one singularly moving story. I can only hope that if I'm ever in an even fractionally similar spot I conduct myself as calmly, selflessly and bravely as he did.

Kim's ordeal of course brings to mind (my mind, at least) the 1999 disappearance of Joe Wood on Mount Ranier. I don't believe in a traditional afterlife, but if there is one I'd like to imagine that Joe (who was the first and best professional mentor I ever had) has been reading the papers and was there to welcome Kim, show him the angelic ropes.

Posted by ebogjonson at 8:09 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

December 3, 2006

the mahablog: naughty words and pictures

Wherein your humble narrator comments on the ongoing lack of a clue of some white progressives have vis-a-vis the proper care and feeding of the blackface loa. [This format is evolving, so please bear with me.]

My comment:

It's disappointing (but a certain kind of typical) for white folks to be so right about their own issues (sexism here) and yet so wrong about everyone else's. That said, you have fairly instructively mischaracterized the problem with the Billmon blackfacing.

First off: It wasn't that anyone thought Billmon was a Michael Richards-style racist, it was that many people of color thought his use of blackface was inept. Given the wild, memetic power of those images, people also suggested that there had been no pressing need to invoke those particular loa to deal with the Blitzer/Cheney CNN segment, leading us to the fairly straightforward question of why he might have felt the need to go there. Billmon and his readers' reaction to those specific and contained complaints? Petulance, defensiveness, attacks on people of color for "distracting" them from the important work of saving America, self-serving Peretzian irony about how the last true believers in the values of Dr. King were the brave white folks reading Billmon, Tomaskian whining about how their beloved left was being destroyed by "special interests," and, of course, the clarion call to the actual racists in the woodworks to write "n-word, n-word, n-word" in the comments completely apropos of nothing.

You write above that :

If you are writing from power, you assume some responsibilities. One of these is a responsibility not to contribute to the problems of racism and sexism by using racist and sexist language to diss people.

And yet at that being said, you also just can't resist saying that there have been "some episodes" where no amount of explaining could "placate" "them" because "seeing the point requires an advanced ability to think abstractly" and you cutely "'spect" things "just plain flew over a lot of peoples' heads." Then, just for kicks, you assure us that any "lynch mobs" that form in retaliation will have to get along without you, which, I have to say, is really mighty white of you. You quote Zuzu approvingly on attacks on your gender - "It's easy to reach first for the gender-based insult" and yet the first thing out of your mouth is how smart you are compared to those childish coloreds, but, just in case anyone has gotten you all wrong, any lynching is DEFINITELY going to have to go on without you. Nice work, Kimosabe!

Comment by ebogjonson -- December 3, 2006 @ 4:29 pm

The preceding context:

In the inciting posting, blogger Maha waded into the ongoing controversy regarding use of the word "whore" to attack a female Republican hack on liberal blog Firedoglake. Maha is down with idea that the post and poster can be rightly accused of sexism, but, nonetheless feels the need to separate her apples and oranges by defending blogger Billmon for recent his use of blackface in a post about Wolf Blitzer. (My comment on this related issue can be found here.)

In response to my comment, Maha abruptly closes down commenting in her thread on the argument that:

I really don't want to open up the "blackface" wars again, so I am closing comments before I get slammed with more commenters calling me a racist.

I appreciate that the blackface imagery is extremely painful, which is why I have never used it myself. However, blackface imagery speaks as much, if not more, about white racism than black oppression. For most of the 200 years or so blackface was part of popular culture, only white men wore blackface. It was only a relative short time in the late 19th and early 20th century that black performers wore it, also. It should be viewed with more shame by whites than by African Americans, who don't have anything to feel ashamed about in this case.

And I still say the intention of Billmon's post had nothing to do with racism, and if you can't see that then it went over your head. I'm sorry if you take that as condescension, but it's a fact.

Comment by maha -- December 3, 2006 @ 5:02 pm

Rating:

As an intervention into the Mahablog discussion, this comment could be rightly rated as inconclusive to unsuccessful, as the comment had no impact on the attitude or tone of the poster. While there was certainly some excitement to had in Maha's decision to turn off commenting (!), her final insistence that the problem here is a lack of intelligence on the part of her colored readers is a classic racialized assumption, echoing greats of the genre from the Bell Curve to "What do you call a black guy with a ph.d?"

Her middle argument that whites, in effect, "own" blackface given their extensive use of it is a doozy, as is the non-dichotomy between "white racism" and "black oppression." All the same, these notions might be useful to explore via photoshop and regarding other racial outrages, such (to take a word introduced in this mix by Maha's post) the lynch mob. It strikes me that if, for example, you sever the racism of the lyncher from the oppression of the lynchee, you mostly end up privileging the subjectivity of the killer over the killed - i.e, the white over the black. But maybe Maha had some other effect in mind?

While no one in any way shape or form called Maha a racist (I admit to calling her "typical" and "Kimosabe," but both fall under the rubric of legitimate snark IMHO) her knee-jerk reaction is that she has to act "before I get slammed with more commenters calling me a racist." This indicates some confusion about how guilt, intent and action operate in discussions of racism, and this confusion is fairly global in her thinking, extending back to her reading of the initial Billmon incident: "I still say the intention of Billmon's post had nothing to do with racism." Sure, I guess, but it seems fairly straightforward to suggest (as we did way back when) that Billmon's intent might be distinct from the racial dynamic engendered, unleashed by or at play in his decision to pull out the cork. That Maha confuses all these points in the process of (rightly) attacking a male blogger for the sexism of their purported "non-sexist" use of sexist imagery, is, as they, icing on the cake.

Posted by ebogjonson at 6:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (11)

November 30, 2006

the black agenda report is live

I forgot to mention that the Black Agenda Report has been up and running for some time. Click over and give them some eyeballs and general love!

Posted by ebogjonson at 10:08 AM | Permalink

November 15, 2006

completely there and freaky

It's strange to think he is going to confess:

LOS ANGELES - In a new TV interview and book, O.J. Simpson discusses how he would have committed the slayings of his ex-wife and her friend "if I did it."

The two-part television interview, titled "O.J. Simpson: If I Did It, Here's How It Happened," will air Nov. 27 and Nov. 29 on Fox, the TV network said Tuesday.

"O.J. Simpson, in his own words, tells for the first time how he would have committed the murders if he were the one responsible for the crimes," the network said in a statement. "In the two-part event, Simpson describes how he would have carried out the murders he has vehemently denied committing for over a decade."

"This is an interview that no one thought would ever happen. Its the definitive last chapter in the Trial of the Century," Mike Darnell, executive vice president of alternative programming for Fox, said in a statement.

The interview, conducted with book publisher Judith Regan, will air days before Simpson's new book, "If I Did It," goes on sale Nov. 30. The book "hypothetically describes how the murders would have been committed," the network said.[full story]

I guess there are no double jeopardy issues here.

I don't recall celebrating the OJ verdict (anyone who was there can write in to correct me), although I do remember being amazed in a caffeinated, too-much-cable kind of way that he got off, and was also impressed by the skill Cochran and Co's displayed while getting the unlikely verdict. I think I might have tried to square various circles by declaring my belief in OJ's guilt while also pointing out that this was a highly anomalous outcome in terms of black men and the judicial system, talk that in retrospect strikes me as being in poor form. I definitely wasn't one of those people who vilified Cochran or his defense strategy. Those guys fulfilled the role given them to fulfill by the adversarial system; it's not their fault the prosecuters were chumps.

The most ignoble conversation I remember having about OJ was a drunken one wherein I polled people on the question of what they would do were they ever to wake up from a rage fugue covered in their blonde ex-trophy-wife's blood. Turn themselves in? What if they were reasonably sure it was a one-time lapse? What if they couldn't really remember what happened or how?

I don't really want to watch his confession, but I would be interested in looping extreme slow-mo of his face while he says or almost says or doesn't say "I did it," this just to track minute shifts in his facial expression and demeanor. I actually met OJ once in Las Vegas, bumped into him really in a doorway, and it turned out that one of my party had gone to school or something with his oldest son Jason. (Small black upper middle class + world.) OJ reached out to shake all our hands the way a father reaches out to shake the hand of any buddy of his son's, and us being (despite all appearances and later degeneracy) well-trained boys from nice homes, we all all instinctively reciprocated.

I wasn't the first to touch him but I remember him moving down our tiny little recieving line towards me and thinking: I'm about to shake the hand of a murderer. Was that the hand he used? Was that the one the bloody glove didn't fit on? The one he held up on television to the entire world? OJ's body was a wreck from what I imagined were football injuries, his shoulders and hip motion truncated and off, but the handshake was relatively firm and unembarrassed. He seemed excited at the chance to play the father running into (relative) kids in a foyer as opposed to his usual gig - racial footnote, punchline, double murderer. When I've told the story of "The OJ Handshake" I have on occasion claimed to have experienced Profiler-style flashes of the murder scene, but that's an exaggeration. What actually happened is that, while I had always claimed to believe he was guilty, I became finally and irrevocably sure of it when I touched him. His guilt was like a static discharge, completely there and freaky.

Posted by ebogjonson at 2:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

November 9, 2006

rips ed

edb.jpg

Easy Ed Bradley passed away today. I had a chance to stand a few people away from him at an event many, many years ago and I remember thinking with no small measure of admiration that that was one classically cool older cat. I think the event was that certain kind of borderline-fake party for some or another buppie coffee-table book, and I have to admit to feeling a little out of place there - too much facial hair, locks that I purposefully kept relatively un-manicured, prickly alternative ambitions. Bradley and I didn't exchange a word or even a real look, but I extracted a sense of soothing, well, permission just from his being in the room, a feeling of kinship, largely imagined by me, I know, but that nonetheless made the scene more open and friendly.

I have to confess that it wasn't the funny persistence of his earring that put me at ease, or even the charming, royal boredom with which he attended to his duties as the most famous person in the room, Bradley clearly having taken accurate measure of the folks around him and yet still finding the grace to share a genuine laugh and hello with all comers. No, it was the fact that he was a master flirt that got me, how Bradley seemed to be one of those powerful, married, older men (was Bradley married then? It had to have been '93) whose yen for women had not curdled into a creepy coveting of youth, but had instead ripened into a rakishly cool (that word again) playfulness - gently suggestive, sharp, expert, and completely harmless all at the same time. The way Bradley lived in his skin suggested to me that there were plenty of ways to go about being a successful and uncompromising black man in media, some of them great fun, some of them relevant to a nervous, yellow misfit like me.

Rips, Ed. I wish I'd come over and said hello and thank you that night.

Posted by ebogjonson at 9:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

September 22, 2006

hugo sez

hugo chavez loves ebogjonson.com

Think I can get Hugo Chavez to plug my site?

Posted by ebogjonson at 5:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

nope

nope.jpg

If the Independent had bothered to consult my "Should I Use Blackface?" process flow, they would have been able to deduce in just a few easy steps that putting Moss in blackface was a bad idea.

Posted by ebogjonson at 3:48 PM | Permalink

September 14, 2006

another black site bites the dust?

blackcommentator.com's home page

Saw this on Richard Prince's Journalisms:

"BlackCommentator.com Senior Editors Bruce Dixon, Margaret Kimberley ('Freedom Rider') and I have left BC to launch a new, bigger and better e-magazine, BlackAgendaReport.com (BAR), which is scheduled to make a big splash online in the last week of September," Glen Ford notified supporters of the Black Commentator Web site. "Our reasons for leaving BC involve irreconcilable differences with the site's other co-founder over the publication's operations and business model, especially the introduction of subscriptions and the blocking of non-subscribers' access to past issues. We believe this business model has diminished BC's usefulness and its ability to effectively reach the audience we all seek to influence and serve. We also think the model is financially unsustainable." Ford and co-founder Peter Gamble "have been friends and collaborators on various media projects for nearly 30 years," the site says.

The notice was saddening, first because it suggested that BlackCommentator might soon be no more, and second because I had always admired (from the outside, obviously) Gamble and Ford's long record of accomplishment, collaboration and (it seemed) friendship. I have no idea what went down on at BC but it would be sad to think that something as ephemeral as an "internet business model" came between two men who have worked so well together for 30 years. There will be a new model tomorrow and the day after. Nothing to lose a bud over, seriously.

BlackCommentator endorses a strain of black politics that isn't completely aligned with my own, but I still find them invaluable. It's amazing to think that while the black community numbers some 34-some odd million, while we constitute a discrete media market worth billions, no one besides BlackCommentator has ever thought to produce things like the BC Congressional Black Caucus Report Card. More amazing still to think that they couldn't find a way to monetize that kind of unique product offering, but then I know from experience that black sales people and agencies are actually even less interested in non-entertainment programming than their white counterparts are.

I wish both BC and the forthcoming BlackAgendaReport.com the best of luck. That said, I also want to offer some genuine, very basic and (I know) completely unsolicited advice to both sites:

1 - Get some kind of RSS feed - I was always baffled by the lack of feeds on BC. People want feeds. I know: tomorrow people will want something else. But it isn't a huge deal to identify and then provide for your audience's desires. BC and BAR don't exist to be technical innovators in the management and distribution of information, but that doesn't mean they should lag behind in providing near universally available widgets and doodads either.

2 - Build a reason for people to come to BAR and BC every day - I don't know what either site's ideal publishing schedule should be, but either you provide people with passive hooks into your site (see item #1) or you provide them with reasons to come back to it on a regular, preferably daily basis. There are plenty of low-cost ways to get people to come to BC or BAR on a daily basis. Blogs, headline aggregators, a daily updating comic, comment-enabled articles, community, all-of-the-above, none, whatever. Ignoring all those options and allowing your site to lie fallow for the time between weekly updates is a prescription for failure.

I understand that these solutions are either driven by the audience or by linking, both of which mean a shift in thinking for politically-motivated folks invested in the notion of providing unique, original content to an underserved audience. But unless you can afford to build the kind of shop that pushes out a number of wholly original, must-have items a day, these other strategies are what keeps you meaningfully connected to the audience you want to serve.

3 - Develop a real advertising strategy - I was always disheartened to go to BC and see the same, parallel universe ads on the site, like the button for Bob Avakian's autobiography. I can imagine that BC likely saw the lack of even google ads as some kind of proof of their integrity, but really, now: integrity isn't even going to cover your hosting costs. I don't know what Steve Gilliard's financial picture looks like, but his Alexa metrics seem to be comparable to BCs and he seems more fully engaged with the ad market and the current opportunities available for keeping himself in business.

I'd never suggest that joining some random advertising network will change anyone's life, but until a site is in the proverbial game its managers have no insight or data with which to even begin to imagine what might work for them. Maybe it's ads, maybe it's some kind of premium subscription + ads, maybe there is BAR t-shirt idea out there that is waiting to blow Cafe Press the fuck up. You'll never know until you engage and BC's ad strategy seems to be predicated on a politically motivated lack of engagement. Like I said, I understand the political sentiment, but it's a terrible ad strategy.

3.2 - also - For another comparison, look at BC and BlackSportsNetwork.com's Alexa rankings. BlackSportsNetwork barely registers, and yet which site feels more current, lived in, relevant?

How about BC vs BlackAmericaWeb?

3.5 - also also - not that you asked, but ebogjonson.com has made, like, a dime a day off of its Google ads, which means that if you are reading this, you should feel very select and avant - that and very lonely. Having put them up mostly to play with Google's ad program and tools, I've been thinking about taking them down, but man! That dime sure is addictive!

4 - Get better designers, please - The internets are full of young, black, conscious pixel-pushers who will give BC or BAR a reasonably usable and good looking site at a politically motivated discount. Please find one at all costs.

Besides cooking up a hottish site, the other thing this designer will do is hopefully convince both sites that the current BC color palate should be abolished, not just from BC, but from every black website forever:

lame palate

This palate is a basically red, black and green for black nationalists who are afraid of the internet. It says "black site" without saying "website." I really hate it.

5 - Put some pictures on black folks up on your site - I know this likely strikes some folks as a costly, superficial hassle, but even Bob Avakian would click on an interesting picture of Mao.

6 - Give people something to do besides read - This is an alternate take on item #2, but it bears repeating. "Things to do" can mean traditionally defined community activity, as in posting messages or feeding you news items. It can also mean watching video or listening to a podcast. It can be a less-direct programming experience like a weekly "direct action" item where you ask the audience to write letters. Whatever it is, it should feel relevant to the audience as understood/aspired to by BC and BAR's staff. You know these folks better than I do. What would they like to do besides read?

7 - "Hottish" is a meaningful web value just like "usability" - People have a hard time remembering that when BlackPlanet.com was launched, other folks involved in the black or urban web space were convinced it would fail. "Not hip hop enough," they said. "No celebrities." And (most damning for its subconscious racism), "black folks aren't interested in that white homepage building crap." None of the folks who made those arguments are in the business anymore, and not a one of their brands survived. In fact, six years later, instead of failing Blackplanet.com has become the most-blackenest black space in all creation, so gosh darn you-know-what that it has become shorthand for a host of social relations and habits that grown folks claim to be embarrassed by. This wasn't achieved by producing an experience that was 5-10 years out of date in comparison to mainstream sites looking to forge the same type of relationship to audiences. The thing was "hot" in ways that Hookt.com or UBO were not "hot."

And, not that you asked, but there is nothing out there in the 2006 space that is as hot as BP was in 1999. It would be super-disingenuous to hold out to BAR the possibility of being that site, largely because there is a sense in which doing so will (maybe) put them in opposition to their own politics. But I think it'd be invaluable for them to think about the question of how to be that site while remaining themselves, this even just playfully and theoretically. In management mumbo-jumbo this is known the Big, Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) thought experiment, also known as the Blow Nucca's Minds (BNM) experiment and the Next Level Shit (NLS) game: If the BlackAgendaReport set for itself the Big, Hairy Audacious Goal of Blowing Nuccas Minds using some kind of Next Level Shit, what would it do? What would that mean? What would it require from a staff, technology and culture standpoint?

......

Anyway, everybody's a critic, right? Like I said, I wish both sites well. The folks involved have provided an invaluable service over the years and it would be great to see them continue.

Posted by ebogjonson at 4:34 PM | Permalink

September 4, 2006

i am lying

This is random, but if a black person reads the following line in Gawker's coverage of the boring-ass, irrelevant MTV VMA's, is that like matter and anti-matter colliding?

lots of random name-dropping, then

There you have it, folks: black people--still not reading Gawker. [link]

Are you or have you ever read Gawker?
Are you or have you ever been a black people?
Are you reading this post now?

As opposed to matter/anti-matter chain reaction, a more likely scenario is that if one other black person besides me reads Gawker, then the black dude they just had guest editing for them while the staff was on vacation explodes.

Posted by ebogjonson at 10:12 PM | Permalink

August 28, 2006

wash my hair, please

Anglophone African shampoo advert, circa 1960, via we make money not art:

Also on youtube, an ad for bug spray from the Ivory Coast:

That last one strikes me as a potential parody, but then again Kola Boof struck me as a web-art performance piece the first time I encountered her.

Posted by ebogjonson at 7:47 AM | Permalink

August 4, 2006

I was just following orders...

... from the market!

The Chicago Defender takes a look at BET President and COO Debra Lee:

We must come to terms with BET's truth as a network handcuffed by a marketplace ruled by advertisers, the chase for young viewers, and the added burden of being a black media company.

"We always hear, `All you guys are interested in is making money," Lee says. "We're a business. That's what we do." [full story]

The Defender's take on BET is typically muddled, but Lee's core proposition is a classic form of bullshit. BET doesn't suck because "we're a business," it sucks because many of the folks involved in crafting its shows can be relied upon to produce work that's mediocre and generally low in terms of outlook and quality. Things have improved slightly since Viacom took over and and the new management team has done a few interesting things (like The Chop Up, if you can ever find it on the dial). Still, despite such additions, BET still pretty much sucks, and it's NOT because it's a business. HBO, Comedy Central, VH1, ESPN are all "businesses" (successful ones at that) and 20 hours out of 24 the programming on any of those channels beats what you find on BET.

Hey, speaking of bright spot The Chop Up, something about the premise strikes me as familiar:

Welcome to "The Chop Up," BET News' weekly dissection of the people, places and issues rumbling in the hearts, minds and souls of Black folk.

Where have I heard that before?


Every Friday, the A-List compiles a listing of the most important topics African America discussed the previous week. This week on the A-List: Tiger Terror in Harlem?

I'm just joshing and even if I'm not, I can't complain too much. Everybody steals from somewhere.

Posted by ebogjonson at 10:29 AM | Permalink

July 18, 2006

the dust and bones of youth

So, for TOP SECRET reasons related to a gig I may or may not be in the running for, I'm going to be posting a ton of old articles of mine into the garchival category of the ebog blog. These are portfolio items of limited contemporary interest, so don't feel obligated to read them, although I am (for the obvious reasons) inclined to believe there may be a few items of lasting value.

That's pretty much it re: these reposts, although I do feel strangely compelled to add that the basic reason I've been forced to build this archeological exhibit is that AOL has completely ethered and disappeared the entire Africana.com archive. None of the links to original Africana.com content (as opposed to Encyclopedia Africana entries) in google or anywhere else work anymore, meaning that AOL effectively disappeared the work of literally hundreds of black writers from the Internets. (Lets not even get into the disappearing of thousands of black things those writers wrote about that were never covered anywhere else.) Sure, there is google cache and the wayback machine, which is where I am pulling a lot of this stuff from. But a "fuck you" remains a "fuck you" in my mind even when there are ways for the clever among you to get around it.

Having managed Africana.com and built AOL Black Voices, I can tell you with some authority that this is an actual fuck you. There is no compelling technological, legal or copyright reason for AOL to have evaporated the archive so completely, making the act basically one of spite, that and disregard for the community of readers and writers associated with Africana. At some point or another, someone likely told the new AOL Black Voices staff that they had to get all the articles into some masterstroke AOL content management system, and no one on the new team felt inclined to do the heavy lifting to preserve the archive. Definitely their call and I'm really not sweating it. I'm just making sure I remember who it was that did what to who.

Posted by ebogjonson at 3:28 PM | Permalink

May 16, 2006

tony snow don't know nothing about slurrin no tar babies

What frickin' morons. White House Press Secretary and ex-Fox News talking head Tony Snow on NSA wiretapping:

Having said that, I don't want to hug the tar baby of trying to comment on the program... [Hat tip Crooks and Liars.]

Scholarly debates about folkloric origins aside, "tar baby" is pretty much not something that needs to be coming out of the mouth of a presidential press secretary. A communication professional's job to understand and navigate such nuances, but time and again we are asked to choose between believing these Republican mouth-pieces are incompetent or racist. I likely don't need to tell you where my money is...

Posted by ebogjonson at 1:53 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

April 28, 2006

i am the most worstest movie audience ever

I never went to go see Phat Girlz and I never blogged about it. I mean, despite what I said on the blog (I think it was: "I am going to see Phat Girlz") the whole thing really just bored me. I just couldn't get it up to go see a movie I didn't care about beyond its possible critical/theoretical use value to my work. It's not like I thought I was going to be entertained, as the flick really did strike me as destined to disappoint, and why choose to be disappointed by a fellow black creative when I can be out being underwhelmed by white folks?

Apparently this lack of interest of mine, my "lack of support" for a film that (according to writer-director Nnegest Likké) is "in so many ways a first," makes me the worst black audience ever. I know this because Likké was just on Ed Gordon's News and Notes going on about how the black community didn't support her ground-breaking romantic comedy starring Mo'Nique.

I'll reserve comment until I see the thing, which is still holding on for dear life at the Magic Johnson Crenshaw. I will say, though, that that shit better surprise me, otherwise I'll be forced to concede that our dear sisthren-directress is thoroughly gassed on her own fumes. That's kind of sexy pre-release, but it's not a good look after numerous critical spankings and a paltry $6MM box office tally.

Posted by ebogjonson at 12:47 PM | Permalink

April 26, 2006

whitening strips are the new grill


or are grills the new whitening strip?

Either way, a media funny, from GAWKER


What was Amy Larocca doing gallivanting around the Fulton Mall in downtown Brooklyn?

Getting fitted for grills. They'll probably say something non-antagonizing and saccharine like "peace" or "get happy."

How does Mingo's shirt represent "a Muslim looking for a kind of salvation because his family is poor"?

Because punishing Americans by flooding our stores with dumb shit like that is cheaper than Jihad.

What would Michelle Williams and Heath Ledger think of Staley and Mingo?

They're thinking they've finally found promoters for the weekly dancehall and reggae parties they throw for the neighbor kids in the Boerum Hill projects.

How many hats does Staley own? And what's his favorite?

He's got 15. They're all Yankees hats, but the other 14 are in color combinations that compliment his sneakers. How can you pick a favorite among those?

Posted by ebogjonson at 1:26 PM | Permalink

March 5, 2006

oscar notes 1 & 2

1 - jada looks like a man.

2 - british people have bad teeth.

Posted by ebogjonson at 4:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

November 4, 2005

thanks for nothing, jim 2.0

A hearty ebogjonson.com hat-tip to all the eagle-eyed readers who wrote and called to point out that your humble narrator was the only 90s Book & Snake Negro left out of Greg Tate's recent history of black journalism at the Village Voice. (As I posted rather obliquely a few days ago, Voice film critic J. Hoberman recapped five or so decades of VV film criticism in that same issue and similarly, Kremlinological-like, erased my successive, almost ten-year stints as film intern, Associate Photo Editor, contributor and smoking-room denizen.)

Rest assured, gentle readers, that your No-Prizes are in the snail mail.

Since none of my closest and dearest pals from my Voice days placed in the 50th Anniversary Issue's various beauty contests, I can't really lay claim to any particular personal injury, and therefore have little to say about either critic's history. The whole thing certainly does call to mind, though, a bit my father and his drinking buddies were fond of rolling out at family gatherings. The bit goes like this:

A group of men are standing in a circle, drinking. One of the men (very often my father) looks around, finds a mark outside their oval of intimacy, smiles a vicious little smile at said mark, and announces to those nearby that he knows exactly "kisa neg'sa peze" - i.e., exactly how much the nucca in question weighs. In response, another man looks theatrically over his shoulder at the mark and opines (and I'm translating), "Thing is, I hear dude claims to know exactly how much you weigh." To which my father nods, holds up his drink to the mark, flashes even more grim, pointy teeth and says, "Yes, you are correct, my friend. It is indeed a race to the grave."

Or, as they say in the original Haitian: "Giddyup!"

Posted by ebogjonson at 11:59 AM | Permalink

October 31, 2005

thanks for nothing, jim

Critic J. Hoberman recaps 50 years of village voice film criticism.

Posted by ebogjonson at 8:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)