Saturday, August 27, 2005

WARM UP THE TIVO: The new fall TV season gets off to its official start on Monday night with Fox's debut of Prison Break, which looks interesting despite Brett Ratner's involvement. There's not a lot of stuff that excites me--I mean, did each of the Big 3 networks need an alien-centric Lost knock-off (Surface, Invasion, and Threshold), or a Jennifer Love Hewitt knockoff of Medium, or 2 new CBS/Bruckheimer procedural series (Close to Home and Criminal Minds). So what's looking good?
  • Fox's Mondays, which will feature Arrested Development, promising new sitcom Kitchen Confidential, and Prison Break.
  • Tuesdays at 9 have become one of the nastiest timeslots around, with previous occupants TAR and House having the "Geena Davis as POTUS" Commander in Chief, NBC's Jason Lee sitcom My Name Is Earl and the US version of The Office, and the WB's much-hyped Supernatural all sparring for eyeballs.
  • Wednesday at 9 has a number of potentially interesting new shows (Criminal Minds, featuring Mandy Patinkin as a criminal profiler, E-Ring, NBC's Pentagon drama, Related, which appears to be a Gilmore-esque dramedy with Lizzy Caplan (so good as Janis in Mean Girls), and wacky lawyer show Head Cases, all of which have to deal with Lost and Veronica Mars.

My bet? Surface and Killer Instinct fight it out for the "first show canned honors," with Inconceivable as another potential player in that race, and Just Legal as a runner in the "mini-net" category. The only sure things seem to be the CBS procedurals, and FOX's apparent commitment to Bones.

GOD GAVE ROCK & ROLL TO YA: There's some funny over at Going Jesus about the iTunes database's attempts to identify sermons uploaded for congregational podcasts. (While you're over there, be sure to check out The Passion of the Tchotchke section and try, just you try to resist getting yourself a wtfwjd? t-shirt.) Hat tip to The Future Mrs. Throckmorton for bringing the frequently amusing GJ to my ever-wandering attention.
REMEMBER THAT TIME, WHEN YOU GOT YOUR STAR ON THE HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME? THAT WAS COOL: I'm glad that Chris Farley has finally been so honored, but did they have to include this photo in the AP slideshow?

Open weekend topic: favorite Farley moment. For me, it's a no-brainer: the Chippendales sketch with Patrick Swayze.
"THERE ARE NO SURE THINGS IN THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY, BUT THIS COMES CLOSE." When Michael Eisner said those words in an email to all Disney employees about the impending release of Pearl Harbor in 2001, did he know how wrong he was?

In reading investigative journalist James B. Stewart's book DisneyWar, that question keeps coming up over and over again. Whether it's overpaying massively for the Fox Family Channel, rejecting shows like Survivor and CSI (and the Lord of the Rings films) or trying his best to screw up the few successes Disney did have (whether panning Finding Nemo and Lost upon their debuts, oversaturating WWTBAMillionaire or urging Johnny Depp not to be all weird in Pirates of the Caribbean), it is pretty stunning that Disney still exists as an independent creative company in 2005, and that Eisner lasted as long as he did.

And that's even without getting into the interpersonal shit: whether it's Michael Ovitz, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steve Jobs, Harvey Weinstein or Roy Disney, there's not a key relationship that Eisner doesn't screw up with a combination of arrogance and brazen treachery.

Between the corporate governance issues and the creative ones, this is rich terrain for a journalist, and Stewart provides rich detail for the sadist in all of us who wants to see powerful people get smacked around. I mean, in Eisner, we're talking about someone whose first creative response to the death of John Ritter on the network's 8 Simple Rules was to continue the series with Ritter's on-screen wife (Katey Sagal) now pregnant with the dead character's baby.

There is something frustrating about the book, and that's that it ends a few months too soon -- before the juicy Delaware trial over Ovitz's compensation package, before Eisner agreed to step down in 2005, a year early.

But this is a tale told well, whether you're more interested in the creative successes and miscues or the corporate governance horrors, from Eisner's ascension through the ultimate success of the Save Disney movement.

My best comparison for this book? It's like The Power Broker, only with movies, tv shows and theme parks instead of buildings, highways and bridges.
BUT ONCE I REALLY LISTENED THE NOISE JUST FELL AWAY: Is it summer? Yes. Then we're due for the annual How Dare Liz Phair (Or Any Female In Any Creative Field) Dare Try To Make Her Work More Accessible And Commercial rant, this time from the Sun-Times' Jim DeRogatis, who, otherwise, we're generally a fan of:
To compare Phair's first three albums to her most recent discs is to see a schizophrenic split unprecedented in rock history since Jefferson Airplane became Jefferson Starship. She defends this as part of her inevitable growth as an artist -- a specious and nonsensical claim, given that the melodies and lyrics of her earlier work are infinitely more sophisticated, complex and mature than the sunny platitudes and hummable inanities of late. . . .

My God, what happened to this woman's self-esteem, let alone her brains? What possibly could have inspired one of the sharpest songwriters of her generation to turn to writing such utterly banal crap?

What bothers me so much about DeRo's piece is how personal his sense of hurt is, that he feels directly betrayed by Phair's decision to not just write songs for him but reach a broader audience. As though Jim was entitled to "authentic" Liz Phair music, regardless of what the Actual Liz Phair wanted to do.

Y'know, it's quite possible that Liz Phair was never talented enough to record a second Guyville. It's also possible that she just didn't want to. But for DeRo to show such deference to every odd Billy Corgan project (which the public has rejected) yet deny Phair the same freedom to experiment is . . . unphair.

Friday, August 26, 2005

I DON'T CARE A CUSS WHETHER YOU AND ROOSEVELT LIKE IT OR NOT! Everett True was a comic from back in aught-five. He's sociopathic by today's standards, but the man knew what he stood for, not least proper manners at a baseball game.
NOT EVEN THE FACT THAT KARL ROVE IS OF NORWEGIAN DESCENT CAN KEEP NORWAY OUT OF THE TOP SPOT: When the UN's rankings of the best places to live come out next week, the land of Isben, Munch, and Thor, will, for the fifth year running, be in the top slot.
BUT WILL SHERRY BE THERE: Now, I haven't been watching Tommy Lee Goes To College, but did you know the original concept was to send former Journey frontman Steve Perry to college? Don't stop believin', friends, for if Journey can lend its likenesses to a video game, perhaps Mr. Perry can be convinced to come into our homes.
A PUBLIC SERVICE FROM THE ALOTT5MA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH AND EXOTIC MORTALITY: I don't mean to be the fun police here, but I think suspending the batboy for the milk stunt was the right thing to do for his own good, and I would also fine Brad Penny a few grand for encouraging the kid to do something dangerous. A stomach treated to uncommon crapulence may explode, causing certain death. The typical benchmark used to measure where something crosses over from epic munchies to gastric russian roulette is four quarts -- the same amount that Penny dared the batboy to ingest.

Then why can Kobayashi, a tiny Japanese man, ingest massive quantities of processed beef? Because, believe it or not, he is an elite athlete. Like all elite athletes, he trains hard. You wouldn't run a marathon after never jogging more than a couple of miles, so don't try to drink a gallon of milk in one sitting.

Incidentally, my principal qualification for head of this ALOTT5MA department is that I own a custom-made shirt with "EBOLA" written on it.
WE MAKE THE DOUGHNUTS; WE DON'T DRIVE THE TRUCK: It's not that Jon Stewart says anything that surprising in this Wired Magazine interview on the future of television. It's just that, hey, it's Jon Stewart, and you should read it.
THE DREAMS OF A MILLION GIRLS WHO ARE MORE THAN PRETTY . . . may come true in Nashville, Orlando or the Mashantucket Pequot Nation? Well, it won't be Atlantic City again, because the City has said farewell to the Miss America Organization after 84 years on the boardwalk.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

YOU'RE FIRED, BUT HERE'S A NICE CRATE OF DELICIOUS APPLES: Martha Stewart may be remaining mum on what her analogue to Trump's "You're Fired!" will be, but she's spilled a couple of tidbits on her upcoming Apprentice.
  • Following in the footsteps of "For The Love Of Money," Martha will use an aging pop song as her theme song--the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams."
  • Her "George and Carolyn" will be her daughter, Alexis, and Charles Koppleman, chairman of Martha Stewart Omnimedia.
  • According to Mark Burnett, there is a "wonderful commonality to the end of every show," and Martha came up with that herself.

x

YOU WANT A BEAUTIFUL NAME? SODA: Some celebrity baby news this morning. Jerry Seinfeld's has named his new kin Shepherd Kellen Seinfeld, though me, I would have gone with Seven. But not to be outdone in what apparently is a trend amongst celebs naming their children after professions that peaked in the 19th century, Soleil Moon Frye has dubbed the heir to the Punky Brewster fortune: Poet Sienna Rose Goldberg. I guess that name, which must have been partially inspired by a fever dream induced from the mother mistaking a box of Crayolas for crudit├ęs during a 3 a.m. binge, is somewhat conventional considering the mother's trippy moniker.
I REMEMBER WHEN DONKEY KONG WAS JUST A QUARTER: Have $1,200 burning a hole in your pocket? Then you can buy everything you need (and some things you probably don't) to join the Xbox 360 world from Gamestop. Package includes system, extra controller, and all 11 launch games (though do you really need another edition of Madden?). I think I'm waiting for the PS3, though.
AND WHAT'S THE SI UNIT FOR MEASURING IN "LOVE" ANYWAY? Random thoughts spurred by listening to "Seasons of Love" on the iPod on the way in to work this morning:
  • What about leap years? There are 527,040 minutes in those. Do we just write off the added 1,440 minutes?
  • While the song correctly proclaims that there are 525,600 minutes in a year, it subsequently proclaims that a year contains only 525,000 "moments so dear." Are "moments so dear" marginally longer than minutes? Or is not every minute a "moment so dear?"
  • If you're going to measure in "midnights" or "sunsets," isn't it, barring a change in the laws of physics, just going to be the same as measuring in days?
  • A year allegedly includes "525,000 journeys to plan." That seems a little excessive.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

DOES JEFF KENT HAVE A PROBLEM WITH CHOCOLATE MILK? Thank goodness there's one baseball team where the biggest problem is too much milk:
A batboy who accepted a dare Sunday by trying to drink a gallon of milk without throwing up has been suspended by the Marlins for his actions.

The unidentified batboy will not be allowed to work the upcoming, six-game homestand at Dolphins Stadium against the Cardinals and Mets from Aug. 29 through Sept. 4. . . .

[Former Marlin and] Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Brad Penny, who offered $500 to the batboy if he could drink a gallon of milk in less than an hour before Sunday's game, was angry about the decision.

''It's kind of ridiculous that you get a 10-game suspension for steroids and a six-game suspension for milk,'' Penny said. . . .

According to Penny, the batboy drank the gallon of milk within the time allotment but was unable to keep it down.

What's it like? Ask this guy, or see it in photos here.
WHOA, SLOW DOWN THERE MAESTRO, THERE'S A NEW MEXICO? With the hopes of getting maximum information, but at the risk of putting our beloved commenter Ticky on the spot, is there anyone who can tell me and Mrs. Earthling how to blow an afternoon in Albuquerque? Two weeks hence -- ahead of the new job -- House Earthling (including the Little Earthling) is off to Santa Fe for four days/three nights. But on our return, we're back in Albuquerque by 2:30 or so (we've a small detour to make to an undisclosed location west of Socorro -- so we can't just hang out in Santa Fe until afternoon) ahead of our 7 p.m. flight.

When we do get to Albuquerque, the American International Rattlesnake Museum and the New Mexico Museum of Science and Natural History (better, no doubt, than the Kansas Science Museum) are possibilities, but we're up for anything. The Little Earthling is only 13 months old, so safety and stroller-mobility are a consideration, but his level of interest is not.

On the list of things to do in Santa Fe is the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, lunch and/or dinner at Coyote Cafe, massages at the lovely Ten Thousand Waves, lunch at the Cowgirl Hall of Fame (the restaurant, not the museum), one of my favorite old map stores, and resisting the temptation to buy cowhide furniture. Mind you, we've been to Santa Fe twice before, so we've hit the big stuff, but we're happy for any suggestions about Santa Fe, too, provided, however, they don't involve not going to Pasqual's for breakfast at each and every opportunity.
I USED TO BULLSEYE WOMP RATS IN MY T-16 BACK HOME: Sure, Luke. Yeah, looks great in the movies, but when are we going to have an honest-to-god laser cannon to mount on our F-16s and Joint Strike Fighters? As Reuters reports, maybe sooner than you'd think.

Hat tip: Slashdot.
THE SIMPSONS HAVE LITERALLY BEEN ON THE AIR THEIR ENTIRE LIVES: Today, Beloit College released its annual "mindset list" for its incoming freshman class, its annual attempt to make us feel really, really old by explaining what it means to have been born in 1987:

  • Andy Warhol, Liberace, Jackie Gleason, and Lee Marvin have always been dead.
  • Ferdinand Marcos has never been in charge of the Philippines.
  • Bill Gates has always been worth at least a billion dollars.
  • Pixar has always existed.
  • They never saw the shuttle Challenger fly.

And while the folks at Baseball Primer have been working on their baseball-related list ("Neither Kansas City nor Milwaukee has made the playoffs in their lifetime", "They never had to wait till Sunday to read the batting averages for all the league's players", "No one has any reason to doubt that Japanese players can succeed in the majors," etc.), I figured we ought to expand on the pop cultural aspects of the list. To wit, for these freshmen born in 1987:

  • George Michael and Annie Lennox have always been solo artists.
  • America's Most Wanted and Cops have been on television their whole lives, and Law and Order has been on the air since they were toilet trained.
  • Bruce Willis has only appeared in movies.
  • Bob Barker has always had grey hair.
  • Some edition of Star Trek always has been airing new episodes on television (until this May).

I suspect you'll be able to add to this list.

ACTUALLY, UW MADISON MAKES THIS LIST TOO: The Washington Monthly (probably my favorite wonky political magazine) has an interesting feature this month--a new set of college rankings, which attempts to place less emphasis on U.S. News standbys like median SATs, alumni giving, and size of endowment, but instead using a methodology focusing on community service, research, and how much the college contributes to "social mobility." Neither Harvard or Yale cracks the top 10, and (somewhat surprisingly) Princeton doesn't even crack the top 30. Surprises on the University list include Penn State at #6, Texas A&M at #7, and UC Davis at #17. On the liberal arts side, at least some of our readers will be very pleased to hear that Amherst puts in a very good show at #6, while Williams (U.S. News' #1 liberal arts college) is at #14, and Swarthmore is at #21.
WE ALWAYS THOUGHT IT WAS A QUEEN, BUT IT'S JUST A CROWN: When I think that humanity has reached her limits, I find myself chastened. I did not think it possible that any man -- let alone the same man -- could create something tackier than the monument to Diana Spencer and Dodi al-Fayed now resident in the basement of Harrod's.

I was wrong.
HISTORY SHOWS AGAIN AND AGAIN HOW NATURE POINTS OUT THE FOLLY OF MEN: In 22 years of attending rock concerts, the only band I've seen more than Blue Oyster Cult is the Grateful Dead. And that, ladies and gentlemen, will change on September 4th when BOC appears at Concord, California's Bourbon Street.

Cowbell or not. I'm pumped.

In sort-of related news, Iron Maiden got dissed by Sharon Osbourne and Co, which officially buries the unexplained, but lingering, fondness I had for her from the first few episodes of the Obsourne franchise.
IN A WORLD WHERE TRAILER VOICE OVER ARTISTS FINALLY GET THEIR DAY IN THE SUN: Check out this promotional video for some obscure Hollywood awards ceremony.

Via BoingBoing.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

KUCHA KUCHA: I'm not sure if you're following the Survivor reruns on OLN, but Wednesday's is a keeper for all fans of the show.

Let me get you up to speed -- we're almost midway through season two (Australia). On Tuesday, Michael Skupin tried to play all Locke with a pig and ended up becoming the first competitor ever to leave the show without a vote.

And so Wednesday's episode is The Merge. Among the pleasures of this episode, which I haven't seen since it first aired but I remember almost by heart, are a bad-ass immunity endurance challenge, much strategery by Colby and Jerri, a stoopid tribal council tiebreaker (later eliminated), the subtle pleasures of Nearly Silent Nick, and, of course, The Very Large Mouth Of Kimmi Kappenberg claims a victim.

Season two falls a little in our memories because of its unsatisfying ending, but there's still some good stuff in there.
LIST THIS, SCHINDLER: With the release of The Truman Show on DVD today, Joe Holleman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch lists his 10 Favorite Movies of the '90s, of which only one took home Oscar (Silence of the Lambs). Hard to argue with that choice and also against Fargo, Lebowski, Goodfellas, and Shawshank, and I suppose you have to include Pulp Fiction over Reservoir Dogs, but I think my list would have to include Sling Blade, Swingers, and The Sixth Sense at least in the honorable mention category. And of course, Rudy.
MAD PROPS: Little did I realize as I drove through Madison, Wisc., at 80 mph on Sunday down that I was passing the home of America's Top Party School, according to the latest Princeton Review rankings. The U of W, last year's No. 3, topped the list, followed by Ohio University, Lehigh, UC-Santa Barbara, and last year's No. 1, SUNY-Albany.
NOT ON THE LIST: DAVID CROSBY'S MUSTACHE, THE DRUMMER FROM DEF LEPPARD'S LEFT ARM, AND ELVIS' COLON: I'm back after a week in the Northwoods of Wisconsin and ready to blog. Spin Magazine, always there with a list just when you need it, has compiled a roster of Rock's 25 Most Incredible Body Parts, which range from Madonna's navel and Keith Richards' liver to Gene Simmons' tounge and Tommy Lee's drumstick.
NO, "EH" DOESN'T END EVERY LINE OF DIALOGUE: While the New York Film Festival specializes in the relatively obscure and keeps itself relatively small, the Toronto Film Festival's film list is much more exciting. Sure, they have a bunch of Canadian films no one's ever actually heard of, but they have about 10 gala premieres scheduled, almost all for films the ordinary moviegoer (especially the ordinary moviegoer visiting this site) has heard of. Add to that a list of "special presentations" ranging from Bee Season to Shopgirl to the Michel Gondry/Dave Chappelle concert film, and there's actually interesting stuff going on there. Anyone happen to be going?
ONLY 3,999,999 REASONS REMAIN WHY HE'LL NEVER BE PRESIDENT: Dennis Kuicinch got married on Sunday outside City Hall in Cleveland. Guests apparently included Shirley MacLaine and Sean Penn. No word on if Kuicinch performed his rap song from the campaign (featuring a cameo appearance by Ani DiFranco).
ONE REASON TO OPPOSE TEXAS SECESSION: Speaking of food, you know what I miss from the South? Blue Bell Ice Cream. Sure, you can get serviceable ice cream here, and there's always the "upscale" stuff, though that frequently gets a tad frouffy for my taste. Just look at the flavors. Among the ones I miss most? Strawberries and Homemade Vanilla and Peaches and Homemade Vanilla, both of which take chunks of fresh fruit and mix them into the ice cream, and Banana Pudding, with real vanilla wafers mixed in. Sadly, Blue Bell's territory doesn't come anywhere close to the current location, but on a lazy summer day like today, I wish I could just scoop up a dish.
NO MORE OF THOSE FROZEN MIXED VEGGIES WITH THE LITTLE CUBE-SHAPED CARROTS: I was out at a very-high-end Japanese restaurant last night, and noticed a family with three little boys sitting a few tables away. The boys sat at the table, as quiet as exceptionally quiet mice, for upwards of two hours -- which was astonishing in itself -- but I was particularly struck by the variety of foods they were happily slurping down.

So this got me thinking. The palates of today's consumers have obviously changed since I was a kid in the 70s. Cosmo Girl eats fresh vegetables and fruit most of the time, not the canned peaches and frozen mixed vegetables I remember from my childhood dinner table. The one that really jumped out at me was edamame, which I regularly see kids chomping on with gusto every time I go out for sushi. I would have loved edamame as a kid -- I just didn't know it existed.

What other foods have become commonplace in today's world that weren't available during your childhood?
BLAME IT ON THE REIGN: Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov has banned lip-synching.
CRAZY TRAIN NOW DEPARTING, PLATFORM 6: So, according to Tom Cruise, he was Shakespeare in a previous life? Somehow, I don't think that this (arguably Cruise's best monologue) is quite the level of "To Be Or Not To Be."

Monday, August 22, 2005

DON'T TELL ME WHAT I CAN'T DO: Wondering what episodes were submitted to Emmy voters by the nominated programs and actors? Wonder no more and read the list here:
Nominees for Best Drama and Comedy Series choose 6 sample episodes from the past TV season as examples of their best work. DVDs of all episodes are sent to selected members of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences at home where they promise to watch them and must sign an affidavit attesting that they did so. In order to assure that voters are not overloaded with too much viewing, each series panel member is randomly sent 2 of the 6 series episodes.

In the series acting categories, lead nominees submit 1 sample episode as an example of their best work from the past TV season. Supporting stars submit 2. Emmy judging is done purely by peer group -- actors weigh actors, writers evaluate writers, etc. All voters are restricted to voting only in 2 peer-group categories. They do have the option of adding 2 program categories as well, but cannot judge more than 4 races in all.

For Terry O'Quinn's work as John Locke on Lost, they used "Walkabout" and "The Moth", both of which I've seen recently and are quite well-chosen.

Meanwhile, Tom O'Neil of GoldDerby.com argues that the women of Desperate Housewives likely screwed up by submitting comedic performances rather than ones which demonstrated their dramatic range.
AND I WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL WITH A HUNDRED GUYS LIKE TURTLE: One of the nice things about summer is that I have been catching up on tv I've missed over the past year -- House, I think I mentioned before, but also Lost and Entourage, which, hot damn, is some witty, funny stuff, and any show that brings the Piven is worth your attention.

How 'bout you?
COMPLETING THE TRIFECTA: Natasha Lyonne is apparently not doing at all well. Sadly, her life seems to be treading perilously close to that of her idol, Janis Joplin.

On a related note, this is one of the best pieces I've ever read on drug addiction, by Seth Mnookin, the author of Hard News. I re-read it every few months and it never fails to affect me deeply.

Edited to add: I forgot to include the equally disturbing companion piece written by Mnookin's mother, Wendy Mnookin. Here it is.
ERASURE IS IN MOURNING: For Robert A. Moog (of synthesizer fame) has died at 71. As cheesy as those first generation keyboard/synthesizers were, they've produced some irresistable music--can you imagine A-Ha's "Take On Me" without the synth line connecting the verses? Share your favorite synth moments below.
STILL, A STEP UP FROM KEVIN FEDERLINE: Courtney Love claims to be pregnant with a child from British comic Steve Coogan, and doesn't sound too happy about it. If this is true, let us hope she does not pose in the same (naked) manner Heidi Klum recently did. (NSFW, even though it's just a Gawker link.)
I LAUGHED. I CRIED. IT WAS BETTER THAN CATS IN ARMORED ALUMINIUM WHEELCHAIRS BASHING THE HECK OUT OF EACH OTHER: Murderball is the story of the United States Quad Rugby Team and it’s road to and through the Athens Paralympic Games. It’s been well written-up any number of places by now, but short and sweet this movie has everything you could want in a sports documentary: thrill of victory, agony of defeat, bitter rivalries, compelling characters, overcoming adversity, betrayal, reconciliation, drama, humor, love, hate, campfire girls, disabled veterans and a competition-induced heart attack. It’s even got Ween and Ministry on the Soundtrack. So, please, for Pete's Sake, when you’re done marching with the penguins, get out there and get you some Murderball.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

YES, WE KNOW, JOHNNY CASTLE ALWAYS DOES THE LAST DANCE: Something I've never been able to reconcile about Dirty Dancing, which was on again this weekend -- how come, during the big dance finale, no actual 'dirty dancing' occurs between Johnny and Baby? Doesn't that kinda negate the whole movie?
DEATH IS THE BEST THING THAT CAN EVER HAPPEN TO A RAPPER. ALMOST DYING ISN'T BAD EITHER: You know that I'm a big fan of Kanye West -- but that's not to say I'm not a little uncomfortable with his breaking so large as to be on the cover of Time Magazine this week. Because what goes up . . .

There are so many things he does well that it's hard to pinpoint it down to one or two. The intelligence of the writing. The great use of samples. The sense of humor. But what distinguishes him most is his willingness to express doubt and uncertainty in his lyrics about himself and the whole hip-hop culture. From "All Falls Down":
I say f*** the police, that's how I treat 'em
We buy our way out of jail, but we can't buy freedom
We'll buy a lot of clothes when we don't really need 'em
Things we buy to cover up what's inside

'Cause they make us hate ourself and love they wealth
That's why shorties hollering "Where the ballas' at?"
Drug dealer buy Jordans, crackhead buy crack
And a white man get paid off of all of that

But I ain't even gon' act holier than thou
'Cause f*** it, I went to Jacob with 25 thou
Before I had a house and I'd do it again
Cause I wanna be on 106 and Park pushing a Benz

I wanna act ballerific, like it's all terrific
I got a couple past due bills, I won't get specific
I got a problem with spending before I get it
We all self conscious; I'm just the first to admit it

I saw an interesting interview with Kanye on MTV yesterday where he decried the homophobia of his peers, demanding that they stop regarding "gay" as the opposite of "hip hop". Interesting stuff.

But I'm worried. Being "the hip hop artist white people respect and want more rappers to be like" is a hard place to be -- ask Lauryn Hill, Arrested Development, Digable Planets, etc. Columnist Jimi Izrael knows what I'm thinking:
Pop culture determines the context of black artistry. America lampoons people critical to the evolution of pop music in America (Isaac Hayes, Barry White) and marginalizes others by giving them only token mention in the annals of pop music history. White music writers have the audacity to declare with paternalist authority that hip-hop and other kinds of black music have finally "grown up," sighting Lauryn Hill, Everlast, Eminem and Kanye West as examples.

When a black music release becomes an American phenomenon, it loses all traces of its cultural roots and relevance. I am worried that West and Hill have been co-opted like Soul 2 Soul, Seal and De la Soul before them, never to have the love of black people again. White pop culture has determined that she is the next evolution of hip-hop. They see her Afrocentricity as part of a "shtick." I seem to recall another media darling with a similar "shtick" Does anybody remember . . . Arrested Development? White critics loved them too, with their black spirituality and post-D.A.I.S.Y. age afro-hippy instincts. The media smothered them with love — there was even talk of a "Mr. Wendal" cartoon — remember? When they dropped 'Revolution' for the Malcolm X soundtrack, the critics cooled on them -- quick! — dismissing their lyrics as "quasi-political black rhetoric." Two albums sold 5 million of copies total (a paltry sum, considering) with the second one selling less than 100,000 copies.

Remember 'Zingalamaduni?' Didn't think so. Nobody does. Kanye, by purposely offering up work with crossover appeal, is fitting himself up for the same bag. So is Lauryn Hill.

So what is the moral obligation of a white hip hop fan? I have no idea. I just hope Kanye is making the music he wants to make, and not the music he thinks I want him to.