Monthly Archives: June 2009

Vibe Folds.

eminem-vibe-cover1

According to some Twitterati, and a couple of reputable sources, Vibe Magazine is folding.

A few months ago, in an effort to cut costs, Vibe folded its online operation into the print side, cut employees down to a four-day work week, and offered furloughs. Obviously, these tactics didn’t work, and it makes me wonder if the only way for a publication to survive in this economy is to find the magic number: just enough staff to keep it running.

As Gawker noted, Vibe likely had the most diverse readership of any music magazine. But with advertisers cutting back and subscriptions falling, it doesn’t matter how diverse the readership is.

I was never a religious Vibe reader, but I have a number of friends who have worked there, and I usually enjoyed flipping through it (or at least looking at the dope covers). And, Vibe published Elizabeth Berry’s awesome article on violence and misogyny in hip-hop, that I still return to frequently. So, obviously, this sucks in a number of ways.

Perhaps Vibe.com, which has become more robust in recent times, will survive.

UPDATE: Quincy Jones to the rescue?

Vote for Us. Or Else. [Sticky Post.]

Folks,

Last year we were finalists for the Best Culture Blog at the Black Weblog Awards only to fall short in the end. Since then, we’ve added more contributors and have generally become a smarter, sharper site.

We trynna win it this year, but we need your help. All you have to do is vote for us here.

Thanks and be easy!

Your Monday Random-Ass Roundup: Never Can Say Goodbye.

Don Cornelius would like a word with you. Don’t make any dinner plans.
In the meantime, your Post-Bourgie-approved reading material from the weekend:

1. Of course, homage must be paid to the King of Pop. But we will try to spare you from the overkill. Check out some really good write-ups here, here, here, here, here and here in particular. From Kiese: “The greatest American worker of our time, a curious little black boy from Gary who felt compelled to work in white face while changing the way music and masculinity sound and look, died today. Michael Jackson will never work for us again.”

2. A former member of Jackson’s entourage says MJ predicted his death six months ago. He also claims that Jackson was suicidal, possibly anorexic and secretly gay. Take from this piece what you will.

3. The U.S. Supreme Court earlier today overturned one of Sonia Sotomayor’s most controversial rulings, siding with a group of white firefighters in a 5-4 decision on Ricci v. DeStefano. The Ricci case has provided plenty of fodder for conservative opponents of Sotomayor’s nomination to the High Court. That opposition figures to gain more steam in the coming days. Here’s some instant analysis from Adam Serwer and the crew at Slate.

4. With the slow death of the U.S. auto industry and the steady – but sure – decline of Detroit, Jonathan Mahler of the New York Times considers what will become of the black middle-class. “We’ve been hearing this phrase — “the death of Detroit” — for years now, but this is what it’s going to look like, how it’s going to play out. There’s a perverse paradox here, one that I was reminded of every time I met a black autoworker in an Obama T-shirt or with an Obama bumper sticker adorning his or her car. We have just elected our first African-American president, and yet, at the same moment, a city and industry that together played a central role in the rise of the black middle class … is being destroyed.”

5. Potraits of instability: Foreign Policy offers some grim images from some of the world’s most fragile countries.

6. The mystery of who revealed those steamy yet strangely un-erotic e-mail messages between embattled South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and his Argentine mistress has been solved: it was one of the woman’s former lovers.

7. On the same topic, Amanda Marcotte has an interesting theory about why Sanford would be willing to take such a tremendous personal and professional gamble: “But the whole right wing Christian culture discourages those things that might inflame passion … If you never feel that sort of passion and suddenly it enters your life in middle age, what would you do? You’d probably freak the fuck out, I’d guess. Your entire worldview would change. You’d babble about how much in love you are during a press conference.”

8. In case you missed it Friday, the five remaining defendants in the Jena 6 case all pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of simple battery. They also settled a civil suit with the family of the schoolmate they were accused of attacking in a school fight in December 2006. So, for all intents and purposes, the case is finally over and move along and there’s nothing to see here. For a little more background, check out this story from 2007.

9. Hoping to bypass Congress, The White House is drafting an executive order that would allow for indefinite detention of terrorism suspects without charges. Sigh. The more things change … yada yada yada. Glenn Greenwald does the business here.

10. The Stimulist’s argument for lowering the drinking age.

11. Remembering Stonewall.

12. Whither the end of “superdelegate“?

13. Steamy vamps, murder, passion and sex. If you were a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan and True Blood makes you a slave to the idiot box on Sunday nights, you’ll appreciate this piece by Laura Miller on the genre known as Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Romance. It’s a cultural study of the some of the popular heroines pre- and post-Buffy. Here’s a taste: “In your 20s (the age of most urban fantasy heroines), love and sex can seem like a powerful magnetic field, distorting your perceptions of yourself and other people. If you succumb, will you be surrendering control over your own destiny, which is still coming into focus? It’s a question with particular relevance to young women, and the mesmeric power of vampires and other supernatural lovers in urban fantasies speaks to the fear of losing your bearings should you fall under the spell of an especially irresistible suitor.”

14. The NYT provides an interactive map of all NYC’s homicides from 2003 to 2006, which you can view by race, age, sex and time of day.

15. Is there really a John Edwards sex tape? Jeebus.

16. In Vibe‘s voter-fueled “The Best Rapper Ever” contest, it’s defending champ Eminem against 2Pac. They’re both wrong.

17. On a somewhat related note, GOP National Committee Chairman and noted hip-hop fan Michael Steele tells a crowd in Detroit to “don’t write the Republican Party off.” Reaction was, uh, mixed. One panelist: “Michael Jackson is dead. God rest his soul. I am not going to be the Michael Jackson of the Republican Party. You will not use me until I am dead.”

18. The one industry lobbying to pay more taxes: licensed brothels in Nevada.

19. Why Mitt Romney is a lot like former NBA draft bust Michael Olowakandi.

20. Speaking of the NBA and the draft, Milwaukee Bucks draftee Brandon Jennings is off to a rocky start. And Joe Budden is involved. Bethlehem Shoals, as always, makes a spirited – and thoughtful – defense.

21. Meesh does the hula.

Sorry for the delay. Blame it on the boogie. Or Joe Jackson:

But really: what the hell was wrong with BET last night?

More on Gender and Pain.

bandaid

I’ve been having a spirited back and forth with a reader named Lex via e-mail on my post about gender socialization and pain from a few weeks back.

Lex writes:

1. “If our physicalities are so elemental and inextricable to our identities … then most of us are not even experiencing the same corporeal world.” Which would mean that people are experiencing different levels of pain in response to the same stimulus based on something other than their physiology. While you could make arguments about how perception, relating to identity, actually does have subtle influences on the physiology of pain (ie endorphins), this mechanism is not affected by any of the social categories you name. You also use the word “elemental” which doesn’t actually mean anything specific except to invoke references to supernatural explanations for personality traits. And you utimately conclude it’s reality itself, the stimulus, that is different and not just the perception of that stimulus.

2. “there’s a huge social component to certain … sensations.” But I think I might have misunderstood what you meant by that. I suppose a sensation *is* a percpeption of a stimulus and certainly is affected by socialization.

3. “The arrogance/condescencion in that statement is twofold: it presumes not only that my friends can’t handle physical pain because they’re women…”
I see no reason for this to be considered genderized… maybe YOU genderize it and give you male workout partners a break while picking on your female workout partners. But anyone who doesn’t work out a lot goes through this learning experience and the people that decide to push on through the burn do so only with some kind of encouragement. If I miss my workout or try to leave early my buddies at work call me… a lot of different things that we don’t tell HR about. It’s fairly effective. There are a variety of reasons this approach may not be effective on the average woman that are well worth discussing but they don’t have anything to do with pain.

4. “…but also that my very genderized notion of pain is the only way of understanding and experiencing it.” There is only one way of experiencing pain. It cannot be genderized. The neural pathways for pain are very primitive and the same in both genders. Perhaps you meant your genderized way of understanding and experiencing strenous athletic performance? There certainly are plenty of examples of female atheletes (we have some badass female powerlifters and cross trainers in Seattle, Including an Olympic Gold medalist lifter) though but many of them started sports at a young age and say within female athlete subcultures

Largely based on those 4 statements I interpreted much of the rest of the article to mean that men and women actually do experience pain differently. You did literally say that there was a male way  of “experiencing it(pain)”. I was kind of confused why you gave examples that conflicted with  without addressing that conflict.

Lex seems to be misunderstanding what I was saying while reiterating it at the same time. I do think men and women experience pain differently, but not on some neurological/chemical level. (I wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case, though.)

I think the perception of pain is deeply socialized, and influenced by things like gender and culture and any number of subjectivities, even if our biological responses are more or less identical. The threshold of human hearing, for example, occupies the same general range for most hearing people — roughly 16 Hz and 16,384 Hz. That doesn’t mean that we’d necessarily agree on what constituted “loudness.” What determines how we perceive the same sound is informed in large part by what came before it.

In arguing that subjective experience is elemental (which s/he took meant some crunchy, hippie-dippie stuff but by which I meant only “basic”), I  was suggesting  that even the simplest things we take for granted about the way we experience the world should not be assumed to be true for everyone, and that empathy means recognizing why that isn’t just a straight transposition — i.e., “just like me but white/just like me but with breasts.”

Wow. Just…Wow.

Michael Jackson the Man.

There are things you notice when you watch a string of Michael Jackson videos back-to-back, things you probably didn’t notice when you were eight.

One of them is how obsessed with masculinity Michael Jackson’s Thriller– and Bad– era work seemed to be. In Thriller, he tells his girl he’s not like other guys, and he’s both a threat to her and her savior. Beat It is all about his alpha dog ability to stop a gang fight through dancing (“Don’t wanna be a boy/You wanna be a man). Bad, above, is full of macho-posturing, and this was when the crotch grabbing really started in earnest. (Lyrics: “Your talk is cheap/You’re not a man.”)

Sometimes, his masculinity is being challenged, and he overcomes the challenge.  This is especially true in the video for “The Way You Make Me Feel,” which I remember as one of my favorite songs.*

In the beginning, a group of men are laughing at Jackson’s attempt to get the girl, saying, “You don’t know about women.”

Then he gets her. Through dancing and singing, obviously.

This continued through to “You Rock My World,” which would have been a better song and video if he wasn’t at that point so painful to look at.

He got more macho just as he began to look more feminine. One of the first things I remember learning about Michael Jackson is that, by the Bad cover — which is the last one I really remember seeing on a vinyl album in a rack at Wal-Mart — he had had surgery to make it look as though he always had eyeliner on. Even a nine-year-old knows that’s different from your run-of-the-mill Pop star.

In today’s New York Times, Alastair Macaulay wrote  a really fantastic review of Jackson as a dancer, and notes that Jackson was projecting a sense of androgyny early in his career. That’s true, but I’m not really sure the conflicting tones were purposeful, or at all embraced, by the troubled soul Jackson proved to be.

*I’m trying to remember if this was in the Moonwalker movie, or if we just had the video recorded on the same VHS tape we had recorded Moonwalker on. Does anyone know? Also, as an aside, doesn’t Moonwalker become an extremely weird movie now that you’re older?

** Macaulay calls the socks Jackson wore during the Motown 25th anniversary special off-white. Those socks were sequined, sir.

What’s Playing In My Deck.

Something, anything, with a little hint of the late King of Pop. It’s no surprise that Michael Jackson left his substantial musical imprint all over hip hop, too.

Here’s a list of my five favorite hip-hop joints that include samples from Jackson’s unparalleled catalogue:

1. It Ain’t Hard to Tell by Nas. Jackson sample: Human Nature. A couple of classics from a pair of artists who were, in a sense, pioneers of their genre. Obviously, Nas ain’t touching Mike on a number of levels. But nonetheless, Nas has built quite a legacy in hip hop. This was the song that pretty much launched his career and turned Illmatic into a classic.

2. It’s All About the Benjamins by Puffy, Biggie, The Lox and Lil’ Kim. Jackson sample: It’s Great to Be Here. If you’re wondering where the sample comes in, it’s the last verse of the song. Biggie’s verse. And he kills it. As usual.

3. OPP by Naughty by Nature. Jackson sample: ABC. “OPP” is a song that has held up well over the years. Nothing feels dated about it.

4. You Ain’t a Killer by Big Pun. Jackson sample: With a Child’s Heart. The first Pun single that I ever heard. I was a fan from jump.

5. Breakadawn by De La Soul. Jackson sample: I Can’t Help It. One of my favorite hip-hop acts rhyming over my absolute favorite Michael Jackson song. Both songs put me totally at peace.

Honorable mentions: All That I Got is You by Ghostface (Maybe Tomorrow); Izzo (H.O.V.A.) by Jay-Z (I Want You Back); Hey Lover by LL Cool J and Boyz II Men (The Lady in My Life).

For the record, I’m having quite the time going through all these CDs and digital music files in the name of “research.” And when it’s all done, I plan to make bloggers beat it and scream just like Michael (headz ain’t read-ee).