Friday, December 24, 2010

The Best of 2010 Part 3

Here it is, your next installment of the Best of 2010 from Ghetto Hippie.

Biggest Event to Happen to the Holy Game Since a Guy Name Michael Retired for the First Time : The Decision

Ok, so, if you're wondering what the holy game is, it's BASKETBALL! Don't understand? Let me put it to you like this, Basketball is to the USA what Soccer is to the rest of the world. It's the peoples sport. If you still don't get it, watch the movie He Got Game and get back to me.

Now that we've established that, if you don't know why Basketball is the Holy Game, than you might not know what The Decision is either. The Decision is the event that shocked the world of basketball. It was the day that free agent, Lebron James, decided to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers and his home state of Ohio and "take his talents to South Beach." By joining the Miami Heat, Lebron joined forces with superstar Dwayne Wade and the really, really good Chris Bosh. This was an unprecedented move in the history of sports. It was the first time that top young players took it upon themselves to create a "super team". Cleveland was so sad, that people immediately started burning Lebron Jerseys.

So now what stands between Lebron, his homies, and oodles of NBA Championships? Well there's a team in Boston (cause I'm a Laker fan, I don't talk about them) and of course, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Kobe and Lebron are the two most mythical figures to play the Holy Game since that guy named Michael. (If you don't know who he is, I don't know what to tell you.) The last time the NBA has seen two giant players battle it out with each other was when two guys named Larry and Magic were playing. (Seriously if you don't know what I'm talking about, just stop reading and come back tomorrow.) For the past few years basketball fans, have waited with baited breath, hoping to see Lebron and Kobe meet in the NBA Finals. But it hasn't happened. People are hoping that this is the year, now that Lebron has a super supporting cast.

So if you want to see what I'm talking about, tune in at 5pm on Christmas Day to see the Miami Heat take on the Lakers for the first time since The Decision. That's what I'll be doing.

Best of 2010 Part 2

Here it is, your second installment of the Ghetto Hippie Best of 2010.

Biggest I Should Have Lost My Job Moment, But Didn't: Regis Philbin

Did you see Nicki Minaj perform on the Regis and Kelly Show (AKA Bootygate)? You might have missed it. And if you don't know who Nicki Minaj is, it's time to do some googling.  So Nicki was on the Regis and Kelly show to promote her new album Pink Friday.  After her performance Regis and Kelly came over to share a few words with Nicki, and in the words of E! Entertainment, Regis "finally completed his transformation to a dirty old man."  After coming extremely close to touching Nicki's midsection, Regis follows through by patting her on the butt.  Yeah true story.  Kelly Ripa, his co-host, couldn't hold back her shock.  There were several news articles, and twitter posts, but in the end it wasn't much of a scandal for Regis.

So today, I will take a couple of lines on my blog to let Regis now how I feel about his antics.

Dear Regis,

What's wrong with you?  What on earth makes you think you have the right to touch anyone without their consent?  Are you aware of the concept of sexual harassment?  What you did, was inappropriate, offensive, and illegal.  Here's the thing though, if you've done this on national TV, what have you done when no one was looking?.  On top of all of this, you know what else you did?  You showed the world that a wealthy, famous man, can touch anyone's butt and suffer no real consequences.  Young girls across the country have now learned that lesson from you.  What a tremendous legacy you've left.  As soon as I saw the YouTube link (not provided here, you'll have to find it yourself) my first thought was, I'm never going to watch your show ever again.  But I immediately realized that I already never watch your show.  So I guess I won't start watching your show.  And here's to hoping that you are held accountable someday for perpetrating and condoning sexual harassment.  I won't hold my breath, but...

...anything can happen. 

That's what we've learned from you.

Ghetto Hippie

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Best of 2010 part 1

That's right it's that time of year again. It's the best of 2010. So without further ado, let's begin, shall we?

Best Impersonation of Ebenezer Scrooge: Lester Freeman

When I say Lester Freeman I'm not referring to Lester Freamon from The Wire. Now that we've cleared that up, if you aren't up on the Albany Common Council, I'm sure you're asking: "Who the hell is Lester Freeman?" Lester Freeman is the new Common Council Member for the 2nd Ward in Albany. Why I'm bestowing this honor on Lester?

Let me explain.

A couple of nights ago dozens of concerned Albany citizens packed into the Albany Common Council Meeting to voice their support for the Albany Bath House #2. My two sons were in attendance. They both explained to the council that the Bath House was important to them and implored the Common Council to save it. For those who don't know, Albany Public Bath House #2 is essentially a local indoor pool that is open to the public. It costs adults $1 and kids $.25. My boys learned to swim there. Their school, the Albany Free School, brought the kids to swim there every Friday. For the past several weeks, students at the Free School along with concerned community members, appealed to city officials to keep the Bath House open.

A couple weeks ago it appeared that the Bath House might be saved. The Common Council voted to include a plan that could keep the Bath House open for another year, offering an opportunity to devise a plan, to save it permanently. The pool is underutilized and in disrepair. The main reason it is underutilized is that it's poorly advertised. The reason it is in disrepair is because the city has failed to maintain it. And now the city is in a budget crunch and difficult decisions have to be made. The cost to keep the Bath House open would have been $200,000 out of a budget of $165 million dollars. Despite having a budget shortfall of something like 20 million dollars and serious budget cuts, there was only one budget issue that galvanized the community, the Bath House. So the council devised a way to save it
Enter our dear mayor, Mayor Jerry Jennings. He was convinced that the Bath House needed to be closed. And so he vetoed it. This was the first time that he used his veto in his 17 years in office. The kids at the Albany Free School came to visit the mayor and pleaded with him to keep it open. He wouldn't listen. So now it was up to the Common Council to override his veto.

The original measure passed with 9 votes in favor of saving the Bath House but 10 votes are needed to override a mayoral veto. To make matters worse, one of the council members who had originally voted in favor of it was in Russia visiting family. So we needed two council members to come to our side and vote to save the Bath House. The stage was set.

A multi-racial, multi-generational group of concerned citizens came to the Common Council meeting. You could not have written a more heartwarming scene. One woman explained that she started swimming at the Bath House as a kid and lived in Albany her whole life; she graduated high school in 1950. Another senior mentioned that she had learned about the Bath House and started using it as a form of physical therapy. Several people explained how an indoor pool like the Bath House, is an excellent place to address the health issues facing lower income communities. Others explained the importance of preserving historic buildings in an old city like Albany. While others explained that it's the little amenities, like a walkable cheap indoor pool, that make a big difference in maintaining residents in a city like ours.

The outcry was impassioned and the unity was inspiring. As I said my sons, along with other school mates, explained to the Common Council that the Bath House was important to them. Aurora, the six year old school mate of my boys and star of the Halloween Night Video, explained that the Bath House is "awesome" and if you take away things like the Bath House than we won't have any more "awesome things".  For some reason, I convinced myself that the council would listen to reason.

Council person Barbara Smith (More on her in a minute.) must have known that the votes weren't going to be there. She made a point to echo Charles Dickens and likened the upcoming vote against the Bath House to the acts of Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol. Several other council members voiced their unwavering support.

Enter Lester Freeman.

He happens to be the council person of the 2nd Ward, home of Albany Bath House #2. He grabbed the microphone and came to the center of the gallery and gave a spirited denunciation of the Bath House. With the passion of a preacher he went off about how the South End "needs jobs not a bath house", as if he was creating jobs by cutting the Bath House (it won't save a single job). He mentioned how the city might have to cut more jobs next year, including the summer youth employment program. (This was also irrelevant - no one was saying "yeah cut the youth employment program to save the Bath House.") He also said that when he campaigned for his council seat no one mentioned the Bath House. (Yeah, no one knew you he was trying to close it.)  And then he said two things that pissed me off.  He said, "people have tried to pull the race card tonight" and then Lester said "only one black member (Barbara Smith ) of this council is voting for the Bath House". Yeah that pissed me off.  As John Stewart would say: two things.

1. The people who pulled "the race card" were black people that use the pool, some of whom live in your ward.
2. When you said "only one black member...” what you should have said was: "Only one seminal, black feminist author, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee, and individual partially responsible for the reprinting of Their Eyes Were Watching God, on this council, voted to save the Bath House."  (See - Barbara Smith

Lester you could have saved the pool that my kids learned to swim at.  The pool was affordable and open to the public.  You clearly displayed that you work for the mayor, not your constituents, and that's too bad.  It's politicians like you, that make people like me think the political system is broken beyond repair.  You made my kids cry and I will never forget it, neither will they.  I hope you're happy.

Friday, December 17, 2010


Hey y'all.  Here is an interview I did the other day for Live on Lark St. at Ben and Jerry's.  They just started doing this webstream tv show.  Two of my friends, Mike Sperduto and Musa Zwana are involved with this.  Their still ironing out the kinks but check it out.  FYI: I don't show up until the twenty minute mark but there are several interesting people being interviewed that you can check out.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Why I didn't vote for Barack Obama part 730 - Lame Duck Edition

So if you've never read my blog before, the first thing you need to know is that this commentary is NOT a pro-Sarah Palin, pro-Tea Party treatise on the Obama Administration's evil plans to turn the United States into a socialist state. The second thing you should know is that I explained why I wasn't planning on voting for Obama here and here.  I also wrote why I didn't vote for him here and here.

Consider this my Lame Duck 2010 re-affirmation of why I didn't vote for Obama. 

So, I hate to say I told you so, but...

I told you so. I told you so. I told you so.  I told you so. I told you so. I told you so.

Wow that was fun.  I think I'll do it again...

I told you so. I told you so. I told you so. I told you so. I told you so. I told you so.

Ok.  I think I got that out of my system.  What exactly did I tell you?  I told you that we would still be mired in these awful wars in the middle east.  I told you that Corporations were more powerful than political leaders (If you don't agree go see Inside Job) and I told you that we were on a never-ending seesaw.  Do you disagree?

The country is still at War.  One of the important reasons to vote for Obama was the suggestion that we needed to cast this vote for peace.  Not all of his supporters subscribed to this idea but there was certainly a vocal mass of  people in the peace community claiming that a vote for Obama was a vote for peace.  The idea was that the Bush Administration, took us down this ugly road and that we desperately needed a "progressive" voice to get us out of these wars.  The idea was that, there are children dying because of the wars in the Middle East and regardless of political leanings, it was our duty to vote for Obama because he would save the lives of thousands of civilians by bringing the wars to an end.  The problem with that philosophy was that it was dead wrong.

Obama was opposed to the War in Iraq but never said he wouldn't complete the mission over there.  Yes the combat operations have officially been concluded  but the war was moving in this direction at the end of the Bush Presidency.  Iraq is still unstable.  For nearly eight months the country went without a coalition government.  The possibility of a civil war in Iraq still exists.

And of course there is Afghanistan.  The conflict was escalated under the Obama Administration. The U.S. government just deployed tanks to the conflict for the first time.  My definition of peace does not involve sending tanks to a 9 year old conflict that's never seen them before.  The craziest part of all of this is that Obama said all along that he would do this and some people just ignored that.  So I was right about the wars in Middle East.  One point for me!

And how about those corporations?

Remember when I said corporations have more power than politicians.  If you remember in January, the Supreme Court ruled that Corporations should not be regulated for their political spending.  Corporations are still limited in direct contributions but can spend whatever they want on indirect costs.  So if you see a commercial that says paid for by Citizens That Think Barack Obama is a Socialist (CTTBOS -Not a real organization as far as I know.) make sure you note that Exxon Mobil or Morgan Stanely can contribute whatever they want to CTTBOS. In case you were wondering, this past election, 83.7 million dollars was spent by these groups.  Some of you might be thinking... "How can you blame Obama for that? He blasted the Supreme Court for this decision".  My response to you is to quote the Old Jewish Man played by Eddie Murphy in Coming to America: "AHAH!"  MY point exactly.  It is not Obamas fault that the Supreme Court made this election altering decision but it does highlight my point that corporations are more powerful than presidents.

If for some insane reason you still believe that the President is more powerful that the CEO's of the wealthiest corporations than do as I said earlier and watch the movie Inside Job.  You will be introduced to many slimy financial wizards like Larry Summers.  Who's he?  The former president of Harvard, the former Secretary of the Treasury under Bill Clinton, and Obama's chief economic adviser.  He also, once confused a spoken word album by Cornell West as a "rap" album and called it an "embarrassment" to Harvard.  He also once hypothesized that the reason women are underrepresented in high end science and engineering jobs because they naturally have a "lower aptitude".  If that wasn't enough, he also received a vote of no-confidence from the faculty of Harvard but I digress (See Wikipedia).  I'm not an economist but if you do watch the movie Inside Job, you will see the case be made that people like Summers were directly responsible for the financial collapse of 2008.  Please tell me, where is the change?  I want to know.  What is so damn different?  Obama's financial team, are some of the same players that got us into this economic mess.  Watch the movie and tell me that Corporations aren't the ones running this country.  Two points for me!

Lastly and ultimately, we are on a never-ending seesaw.  The democrats are in power, the republicans are in power.  Over and over.  If you get super excited because the Dems win, just remember that the Repubs will be back.  The system works well that way.  We are made to believe that we have a choice.  That we are empowered and have say in the power structure.  The primary problem with this is the premise that the Republicans and Democrats are so different.  I do not, accept the idea that because they differ in certain ways that this stands as proof that they are vastly different.  If I own a Black Range Rover and you own a Pink Lexus we might believe that our cars are completely different.  But they are both motor vehicles and they both cost over 40 G's brand new.  The vast majority of people can't afford either.  There is a world of political ideas and I don't believe in the entire spectrum of political thought, that Dems and Repubs represent the exact opposite sides.  I believe they are in a partnership that runs the country together and never challenges the power of the wealthy.  If you can buy my idea that the two parties are in partnership, you might see my point that we will never really make change by voting for either of them.  This is why I don't vote for either party.
Never Ending Seesaw, three points for me!

I'm not judging people who vote, I'm critiquing people that believe we will be able to achieve a radical transformation in our society by electing any candidate.  I believe that fundamental change has only happened in this country when people demanded it, not through the ballot box but in spite of it.  The Civil Rights struggle has nothing to do with LBJ.  Civil Rights is the result of the blood sweat and tears of millions of people demanding a different nation.  The political system, fought this change tooth and nail and eventually caved because it had no choice.  Women's right to vote, the ending of slavery, and the organizing of labor, only came to pass because of the committed individuals that insisted and never accepted less.  The system eventually acquiesced not because of votes, because of unbeatable human energy that made resistance futile.  (Yes I just quoted The Borg from Star Trek)  I do not believe that Queer rights today are a result of any legislation.  In fact I believe that LGBTQ people have struggled against the political system for decades and now find opportunistic politicians willing to capitalize on "Gay Marriage" or "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in hopes of maintaining power.  Any political vote or signed bill that promotes any progressive  ideal exist only as a formality when people are unwilling to accept less.  At this point, the votes are almost irrelevant.

So in closing, most of you are scared to death of Sarah Palin, I am too.  And just the thought of a Sarah Palin Presidency is enough to get you do dust off those "Hope" signs.  I don't blame you.  All I'm saying is there will eventually be a conservative republican that scares you, back in the Oval Office.  The partnership the Dems have with the Repubs demands it.  I'm not saying that you shouldn't go out and cast a vote for the lesser of two evils, I'm saying that the BILLION DOLLARS (I Still feel like Dr. Evil when I say that) and MILLIONS OF HOURS that it takes to elect the lesser evil, could be better spent working on a grassroots level to insist on the changes we want to see.