Skip to content

It’s Official

April 27, 2011

The new site is up. Needs some tweeks but I give you all full permission to check it out, lol.

counting down

April 26, 2011

The new site/blog is almost ready. Just tweaking things now. u can preview at marknmays dot com and subscribe to the feed. Wondering if I should carry over the ancient blogger version and the ol’ LJ.

My background music is fam singing songs in Japanese. Kids already trying to harmonize.

Talk show talk tonight: Tyler Perry

April 25, 2011

(1) The success of Tyler Perry’s latest film and the upcoming film Jump the Broom
(2) Has BET really improved over the last couple of years?
(3) Are you optimistic about Comcast creating a group of new channels for minorities and Cathy Hughes possibly purchasing Direct TV?

Also we’ll have correspondent John Rogers talking about his friendship with recently deceased violinist Billy Bang and special guest Nathan Haddox talking about the difficulties of promoting and presenting reggae shows in Nashville.

Join Mark Mays, William Jenkins, Mike Harris and Ron Wynn for Freestyle from 6-7 pm CST on WFSK, 88.1FM, also and iTunes college radio (88.1FM)

Why I Don’t Post More Pics of the Kids

April 25, 2011

I don’t post a ton of pictures of my children on the Internet. I know for some of you who read (or used to read) this blog, this is a godsend. I often found myself, and find myself, feigning interest at seeing pictures of the offspring of others.

Yet, I realize, as a shuffle through these streets, these malls, these casual dining restaurants, that my children inspire elderly women to offer them money. Shopkeeps call their employees to gawk at them. Young women in the park exclaim (actual quote) “They look just like the catalogue!”

Some of this is simply a matter of the exoticism of the mixed race child, or how mixed race children are exoticisized, if you prefer the race theory version of the tale. I will agree with you all, my kids are pretty damn cute.

Generally though, if you want proof, you’ll have to happen upon us at a soccer game or some such. there are lots of people who glow visibly when our kids pass by, objects for admiration. Not everyone is so charmed. Psychick is extremely uncomfortable with the prospect of their pictures being on the net, not just because of the bizarre, ready for Nightline perv, but because of the political climate.

People are getting blasted in the dome for what they believe, the things they hold to be true, for who they are or whom they love. We’ve seen this throughout our history of course, and Psychick and I realize we belong to a particular class (classes, really) that have borne the brunt of that kind of abuse.

Fundamentalists (not just religious fundamentalists) are of a similar stripe. When events appear to conspire in a threat to their way of life, they seek the company of like-minded folks to form a bulwark against their imagined enemies. Sometimes members of those groups feel emboldened to strike out at those enemies. You can pick and choose from any number of examples to suit your ideological bent.

There need not be an associated group, organized for any purpose, either. At times, the “lone nut” will suffice. So, we err on the side of caution.

Tyler Perry vs Spike Lee: Round 2 – And Perry Comes Out Swinging Wildly!

April 20, 2011

So, Spike finally got under Perry’s skin, or at least Perry couldn’t hold back any longer. Today Perry told reporters that Spike can “go straight to hell!” Pretty strong stuff for a spiritual guy like Perry.

My instincts, informed by working in poli-tricks and journalism, makes me think his outburst is a little too well timed, given that he’s on a press junket with a movie to come out. It’s the only way a smart businessman like Perry stands to gain from such a statement.

Of course the invective is the pull-quote, but Perry has gone on to explain further, arguing that the dispute between he and Lee is another example of Black people battling like crabs in a barrel, and – in a shocking expression of ignorance of other ethnics in the media controversy – that no other ethnicities have these kinds of squabbles (he also compared himself to W.E.B. Du Bois, but we’ll let that one slide for now).

Let’s take a step back and look at what Spike actually said to set off the debate in a 2009 interview with Black Enterprise magazine.

“We’ve had this discussion back and forth. When John Singleton [made Boyz in the Hood], people came out to see it. But when he did ‘Rosewood,’ nobody showed up. So a lot of this is on us! You vote with your pocketbook, your wallet. You vote with your time sitting in front of the idiot box, and [Tyler Perry] has a huge audience. We shouldn’t think that Tyler Perry is going to make the same film that I am going to make, or that John Singleton or my cousin Malcolm Lee [would make]. As African-Americans, we’re not one monolithic group, so there is room for all of that. But at the same time, for me, the imaging is troubling and it harkens back to ‘Amos n’ Andy.’”

It sounds like a reasonable, respectful observation, with Spike expressing an opinion that he isn’t alone in holding. Read what a regular movie goer said when speaking about Perry to The Denver Post:

“I wonder about intentionality,” began another woman sitting in a circle of 45 attendees. “I don’t know, for instance, what Tyler Perry is thinking when he’s portraying Madea. But one thing I think is that there has been this presence that has been very influential in his life — African-American women that have been strong, positive and quite humorous.

“And I think he’s taken that to a level that may ultimately undermine the very richness of what he got from the culture.”

More nuanced than Spike, but without the director’s gift for pithiness.

The debate about media representations of African-Americans by African-Americans has been going on long before Perry put on fake breasts. Aside from being concerned about Amos ‘n Andy, Black folks have been debating for years about ‘hood movies, Blaxploitation, and various subgenres of rap, just ticking off a few. While Perry clearly recognizes this given his comparisons of his feud with Lee to that between Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, he doesn’t seem to get it.

DuBois thought art by Negroes should serve to uplift the race; art as propaganda. Lee and Perry both seem ambivalent about the idea judging from their comments, though Lee leans DuBois’ way. Perry sees his art as a more populist version of uplift, in which he enlightens by beaming feel-good melodramas to the masses. If the means to that end call for broad humor and sassy drag, so be it. Whatever works.

Neither way is “right” or “wrong” as they are philosophies of art. Then the proper response is not “go to hell” or “stop complaining since I’m making money,” but “maybe Spike and his message could reach more people by making movies that more people want to see, laugh a little.”

Some think the disagreement between the two auteur is counterproductive. I don’t. It’s healthy. Perry’s feelings may be hurt, but neither he nor his bank account will be any poorer. Lee’s point – his main point – that ultimately the kinds of Black experiences we see on screen are largely determined by what kinds of films we pay to see, will be advanced. The decades old discussion will continue.

April 19, 2011

Pusha-T vid. New Kanye project on GOOD music label. Your basic “I used to sell crack now I’m a hot rapper” tale, but with West’s sheen applied (and a bit of his cadence as well. Ghost written?)

Trump’s Candidacy a Gift . . . to reporters

April 19, 2011

Donald Trump’s interest in moving to the White House in 2012 is a journalist’s dream. Apparently his interest is also a Republican nightmare. The camera hog come entrepreneur brings encyclopedia sized history of past foibles and faux pas, and the promise of many more to come.

His interest in President Obama’s birth certificate is supposed to align him with budget conscious Tea Partiers, as does his switch from pro-choice to wanting to restrict a woman’s right to choose. He seems to be competing with Sarah Palin as the reality TV candidate.

The only competition where he’s leading, however, is in stories published about him. A Google news search on Trump for the last month returned over 7,000 mentions, with just over 6 thousand for Palin and 5 thousand for Romney.

The GOP leadership in the House has been critical of Trump, as have local leadership in New Hampshire and Iowa. In opinion poll snapshots, Trump is beaten by more serious candidates in his chosen party and President Obama.

So why does Trump merit all the attention? His hair. His ex-wives. His ego. He enjoys the media attention as much as the media enjoys entertaining him, especially the TV journalists. I imagine they’re all looking for their Couric/Palin moment, where they ask the tough question that gets replayed over and over.

I don’t think the press will be able to forge Trump into a serious candidate. His influence on the outcome of the Presidential election will only go as far as his wallet and attention span can carry him, and when he doesn’t see a positive outcome for him (which will mean people are no longer hanging on his every word) he’ll bow out and offer a grandstanding hand of support to the front runner.

Until then, if journalists have anything to do with it, he’s here to stay.

Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself. My name is . . .

April 19, 2011

I used to be up in Live Journal. I went back to look at my old musings. It was 2002. It seemed like big ‘tings a’ gwan back then. My first cover story dropped. New apartment downtown (before gentrification and the mad dash for condos). Living the life, kind of. I was free-er of course. I lived mostly by deadlines and start times. If I “had” to be anywhere it was because I put it on the schedule. Most of what I wrote was personal, and if not personal I made it so.

Two years later? Married. Child. Job (s). Living the life, kind of. I lived by having to be here and there “on time” all the time.

A few years later, the live journal-er formerly known as daikokubashira no longer existed. Most of what I wrote was circumscribed by having a professional life (again, the kind of you must have short hair life I lived before 1998) and a family life. I generally didn’t want to write unless there was a check in it.

But it was pretty obvious that I was enjoying every little word I typed out on LJ. I had a small audience, I didn’t know I was supposed to be thinking about things like hit counts and page views (one reason I abandoned it) when I started. Those kind of worries were only supposed to be for my paid writing.

Did all the joy vanish? Yeah, to a degree. So, like a superhero with a well worn origin story, I need a reboot. I’m preparing to end this place called Dork Nation. It never really lived up to its billing anyway. It was more LeftWing Tar Heel Nation than dork.

I’m not going to abandon a web presence. All writers must blog. That’s what we learned at the Editorial Writer’s Conference Seminar. Everyone is keyed into 1) the necessity for self-promotion 2) that all future battles will be digital (no televised revolutions, as Egypt showed us, it will be streamed and tweeted).

I will rename, revamp, and relocate this here blog. And I will blog more. I will borrow some things from that dude on Live Journal, being more personal/observational. I will get to the theater more, will review records more (rather than grouse silently to myself). I will just write.

I’ve been running the “sad circle” professionally (an old country ass football term for having to chase the quarterback when you failed to keep containment). I want to write as a profession, not that I haven’t been doing that but it’s always been secondary. In my way of thinking, I can do the real job thing and sort of pursue writing. That’s partially been of necessity, but it hasn’t put me closer to my actual goal, and one could argue that it’s taken me further away. Me done wit rass! I’m looking for a more direct route now. Old heads give me encouragement, tell me I have the skill, but don’t put me on (one other thing I’m borrowing from that Live Journal dude, logocentrism!)

That’s the other factor in this equation (that equaled “kill Dork Nation”); the new spot will be more of a showcase. Not sure how I’ll manage having a more personal, journal type blog that is also a professional showcase. I’ll figure it out.

Abolish the Death Penalty

April 18, 2011

United States Supreme Court Justice William Brennan wrote in the 1972 decision Furman v Georgia that a sentence that is degrading to human dignity, applied in an obviously arbitrary fashion and clearly rejected throughout society can be found to be cruel and unusual punishment. That describes capital punishment today.

Recent findings of prosecutorial misconduct and grave errors in death penalty cases confirm Brennan’s suggestion that capital punishment is indeed cruel and unusual. Tennessee should abolish the death penalty whether there’s a shortage of the key ingredient to the lethal injection chemical mix or not.

The Tennessee Committee to Study the Administration of the Death Penalty heard testimony that given the budget in 2009, the process is a luxury for the state. The Commission also heard testimony that there exist too many holes in the system that exposes the accused to significant horrible risks. The risk for society – indeed a real possibility – is that innocent people are being executed.

There are significant findings that point to this. Among them:

Mother Jones magazine reported on the distressing case of John Thompson, a former inmate on Louisiana’s death row. Thompson was exonerated after sitting on death row for 14 years. His lawyers uncovered evidence of prosecutorial misconduct from the office of former New Orleans District Attorney Harry Connick Sr., a man so enraptured with the death penalty that he kept a model of an electric chair on his desk. That morbid toy was decorated with the pictures of death row inmates, Thompson being one.

The Innocence Project, an organization created to exonerate those wrongly accused and incarcerated by the state, investigated Connick’s tenure. They found that one out of every four men sentenced to death were “convicted after evidence that would have cast doubt on their guilt was withheld at trial.” The organization has used DNA evidence to exonerate others – seventeen to date.

Thompson avoided paying the ultimate price only through the intercession of the Innocence Project. Cameron Todd Willingham wasn’t so lucky. The state of Texas sentenced Willingham to death for the murder of his three daughters in a fire he was accused to have set himself. Later, however, the Texas Forensic Science Commission reviewed the case and found that the evidence could not support the charge of arson against Willingham. There exists the possibility, beyond a reasonable shadow of a doubt, that Texas executed an innocent man.

We are certain that Tennessee’s law enforcement agents and prosecutors mostly act in good faith. But it’s reasonable to conclude that such incidents could happen here. In spite of the evidence, in spite of the nationwide trend toward death penalty repeal, Tennessee’s legislators are considering bills that actually reduce the ability of death row inmates to obtain adequate legal aid.

Given the dire economic circumstances, where we can’t afford to sustain a proper teaching force, given circumstances where there is evidence substantial numbers of men are jailed on faulty evidence, given the fact we can’t even obtain the basic amounts of chemicals for lethal injections. Tennessee should simply abolish the death penalty.

Are They Back on This Again? Really?

March 23, 2011

Well, now, in a very old post regarding live action transcoding of “anime” (in which I wondered why we even care) I reposted gossip about the death of the live action version of AKIRA that ‘Hollywoof’ is planning. It has been, in the couple of years since that piece went live, the AKIRA remake has been an on again, off again, mostly off again project.

Now it seems that someone’s agent thought the project needed some publicity and they decided to leak the names of those actors in running for the two leads. Of course, none of those actors are Japanese, or even “Asian.”

This is racism on the same level as that obnoxious UCLA student who was so annoyed at all the Asians on “our” campus.( Seriously lady, have you looked around California lately? Is it really “yours?”) And at that level, rather than retweeted ad infinitum and so on, it should be ignored.

Yes, ignored. No, I’m not really ignoring it, but I have to address it to implore you all to ignore it. Here’s why:

1) See the old post.
2) Yes, the battle for better representation for Asian actors in Hollywood must be fought. It must not be fought with this movie.
a) the movie is likely to suck.
b) even with an all Asian cast, there will be nothing of the original. Oh, all the plot points and nice explosions will be there. But how will a bunch of 30 and 40 yr old dudes express the teen rebellion against the zaibatsu controlled Japanese society kicking at the walls of the original (film and manga)? It isn’t being “white washed” as much as it is being “Hollywood washed.”
c) The film will probably end up in development Hell anyway.

As with other situations like this, The Last Airbender, for example, this is not as much an argument over things like culture as it is about working actors, Asian American actors specifically, getting jobs. We think that is a worth while thing to argue about. Rather than have Asian American actors available to participate in the thorough trashing of a fine piece of work, let’s argue for them having more appearances in romcoms, sitcoms, dramas, and the like.

Instead of Morgan Freeman being the POTUS the next time an asteroid is headed for Earth in a movie, what about B.D. Wong?