Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Waiting for my rice to finish cooking and listened to an interview with football player Ricky Williams. He can't play for the NFL anymore due to various drug issues (that's ganja, not steroids) so he's playing in the CFL for the Toronto Argonauts.

People who actually give a shit about football already know that Williams is famous for being shy and soft-spoken. I came away from the interview thinking that this guy isn't kidding when he says that he just wants to play football, not engage in all of the hoopla that goes with the NFL.

And glad that I have an Argo jersey...

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Cool story in today's NYT about the popularity of the name Nevaeh for little girls. Here's the lead:

Chances are you don't have any friends named Nevaeh. Chances are today's toddlers will.

In 1999, there were only eight newborn American girls named Nevaeh. Last year, it was the 70th-most-popular name for baby girls, ahead of Sara, Vanessa and Amanda.

"Nevaeh" is "Heaven" spelled backwards and this trend is attributed entirely to Sonny Sandoval of P.O.D. who appeared on MTV in 2000 with his little girl, thusly named.

The headline for this story asks "And If it's a Boy, Will it be Lleh?"

Here's a cool interactive graphing doo-dad that shows the relative popularity of various names. "Drew" is still more popular amongst boys than girls which a more secure person would not find notable.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

On a grocery run this evening was listening to the local Hip Hop & RnB station for the top 9 at 9. I had stopped listening for a while because "I'm In Love With a Stripper" continued to be #1 and I'm just not interested.

Music-wise, nothing exciting tonight. But on the general pop-culture, decline-of-society tip, I was horrified to hear the new KFC ads. This is part of the new rebranding strategy, I guess. The background music is a techno-lite reworking of "Sweet Home Alabama" while the announcer touts the new KFC Mashed Potato Bowls! A Mashed Potato Bowl! is chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy and three cheeses all in one. Here's a visual. This, of course, is the sexiest possible, food-stylist enhanced version. I didn't catch the announcer mentioning corn although there sure seems to be some in this bowl.

Let's assume, for the moment, that this particular combination of foods all nestled together in a single container tested well in focus groups. Not my kind of thing but the groups loved it. Is the beginning of summer the most strategic time of year to introduce this? When it's hot and humid do people crave a bowl of potatoes and gravy and a bunch of other shit?

Perhaps it is the same people who made "I'm In Love With a Stripper" such a chart topper, perhaps it is these folks who find that such a bowl scratches an itch. After a full day at the beach, only one thing will do! KFC Mashed Potato Bowls! (cue sexy whooping noises)

Monday, May 15, 2006

A story on the radio today about L. Frank Baum, author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The novel grew out of stories he told his own children and neighbor children when living in Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood.

Maybe you have to know Chicago to understand this. It's like hearing that The Cat in the Hat came out of Theodor Geisel telling rhymes to kids in South Central Los Angeles. Of course Humboldt then and now are different things but still...

Humboldt Park isn't the most hood of Chicago's hoods but it's no place to fuck around. I was at the Puerto Rican Pride festival there a few summers ago. The sun was starting to go down and I went to where my bike was locked up to find a pit bull, dead and bloody, lying on a flattened piece of cardboard next to the bike rack.

Definitely one of my top 5 horrifying Chicago moments--right there in Humboldt Park. So that would make me, what, the lion then?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

I just finished transcribing my interview with Boots Riley of The Coup. One of my favorite bands just released what has become one of my favorite albums. Sometimes journalism is the best thing in the world.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

My landlord was outside today bashing up pieces of concrete. The goal was chunks of gravel and Joe tends to find the most labor-intensive route to any goal so that's how it manifested today.

His young son, Odin, was outside watching.

"Okay I'm going to swing the hammer, you need to stand back," Joe said.

"Could that hammer hurt my foot?" Odin asked.

"Yes, it could hurt you very badly."

"Could it kill me?"

"No it couldn't kill you."

"Oh," he said, disappointed.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Big-ass immigrant rights rally in Chicago yesterday and I feel a renewed sense of pride about being an American and being in Chicago. The conservative estimate is 400,000 marchers while organizers claim 700,000 but no matter...it was a lot of people with no arrests and no stress. When I was downtown I saw everyone literally draped in flags, little kids eating ice cream.

Chicago is not at all touchy-feely when it comes to matters multi-cultural. In the summer there are parades and festivals by every group and these prompt much eye rolling by non-members. "There go the fucking Puerto Ricans/Polacks/Fags/etc. etc." The deal seems to be You get your parade, I get to sneer at it and you.

You'll never be able to make a heartwarming tv ad out of that but, all things considered, it's not a terrible way to be. What I take away from this is that residents aren't going to feign good will so if there IS good will, you can feel confident that it is sincere.

Which is why I found this passage from the Trib so moving:

On the way to Grant Park, the dominant chant was "si se puede" (yes, it can be done). No matter their apparent background, participants raised the Spanish chant to support their Latino comrades.

Serigne Diop, 40, led a group of Mexicans in the chant. "I studied Spanish in college," the Senegalese immigrant said with a smile.

Brian Smith and Zack Wicks, both 15-year-old students from Francis Parker School, turned "si se puede" into a modified rap.

A busload of Koreans and Filipinos riding to the march broke into the chant, banging a traditional Korean cymbal-like instrument for punctuation. And Roger Brewin, a British immigrant, joined in the chant as he marched through the Loop. "I am an immigrant. These are my people," he explained.