Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Gift of Insight

As I was traipsing through the web trying to figure out how to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, I came across this picture and thought of the implications of it. A Black Santa, after all, can go two ways. But when I read the article that this picture accompanies, I realized that there was a lot more to the picture in itself, and the article goes a long way to inspire readers to look further into the subject of discussion. I hope you take the time to read the whole article, not necessarily today if you want to celebrate, but at some point you should read it, and I hope you may wish to read further.

I will say this; the section the picture refers to reminds me of a school project I and a classmate worked on for one of the school's administrators at DCC. He had a sizable collection of "black memorabilia"; items, relics and antiques relating to the images that prevailed about black people in America in the early 20th century. He was displaying some of them in an exhibit in the art department's gallery, and we were assigned to make a video of the exhibit. We shot some footage and I composed some music collages to accompany the images. He liked the end result well enough, but our teacher was somewhat disappointed. In retrospect, I understand his disappointment because the video did not include interviews or explanations of the articles on exhibit, but I also remember that we had very little time to put a much deeper program together. Sadly, this footage has not survived, but if I were to do this again, I promise it will be quite an interesting documentary.

All together now, "Merry Christmas!!!" (and Free Jolly Jenkins! >;)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sporting Rants (because I sometimes talk about sports then start ranting instead...)

I was originally going to post this as a comment at Bronx Banter, who some of you know is a Yankee-centric fan site I often habituate (if I may so indescreetly use the term), but then I realized, "Hey, this is another one of my long rants that decidedly go off-road, so I better put it somewhere where no one will feel compelled to actually read it..." Well, if you've gotten this far, I strongly suggest that you continue...(click-click!)

Not too much being said about Toyota and Audi (happily?) stepping in for General Motors, who chose to stick with the Mets in cutting back on sponsorship deals. Were the Yankees asking for more and GM decided they couldn't afford it? Does this make more sense for the Yanks? And how do the local media, who trumpeted the split, feel about it? Personally, I have no brand preference beyond performance, so though I own a Ford Explorer, I'd much prefer a Toyota Highlander. (More on this: GM and the Mets are in negotiations for an extension of sponsorships, and while they have cut loose six major league teams, they are reviewing all of their deals in light of their nearing bakruptcy and all...)

Also, JetBlue becomes JetRed (essentially) as they partner with the Red Sox as their official airline and on some deal with Fenway Park. From what I've heard lately about JetBlue, it's no better for the Red Sox, so good luck with that.

Should Derek Lowe and his ilk be surprised that their sticker prices are being viewed as a little too high for even contending teams? They may have been steady producers, but are they in their prime? The market is busting for prime players, not producers with a long history (unlike, say, the movies)... Manny, for example, may have hurt himself immensely by playing the agent's game of opting out so late in the game for a bigger contract during an economic crisis, never mind forcing his way out of town in the manner that he did. But is Manny a bigger fool if he doesn't get what he thought he would, or Scott Boras (doubt it) for advising him to do so? No, the biggest fool is whoever signs Manny for three or more years.

Then, there's the whole thing with Furcal. I looked over by our old friends at Dodger Thoughts, and most have opted for the shrugged-shouldered "well..." response in regard to Furcal's agents backing out on Atlanta. I would like to think that the Braves were justified in their indignation if it weren't for the fact that:

A. Frank Wren could not close the deal on a trade for Jake Peavy.
B. Frank Wren could not close the deal on signing A.J. Burnett (despite the howling and warnings of many Yankee fans and media types alike).
C. Frank Wren traded Mark Texeiria when it looked like they were out of the pennant race instead of locking up a potential free agent star, then canceled himself out of this year's sweepstakes early. (Perhaps not a fact, but an observation)

That's a lot of bad luck for a seasoned GM taking over for a well-seasoned GM who usually makes deals like this with his eyes closed. And with the economy going the way it is, I don't know any "good" agent who isn't going to make sure his client doesn't get as much as he can from exactly where he wants to be. I don't agree with what Furcal's agents have supposedly done, but one shouldn't be surprised that it happened, and the real loser is Frank Wren for not doing due diligence by his team by meeting with Furcal in person, like some GMs would have. If he'd done everything possible to sign Furcal, even knocking on his door with a term sheet and literally shook hands and THEN they backed out, I'd have a little more sympathy for their plight.
Some say David Wells did the same thing when he signed with the Yanks the second time after meeting with George over cheeseburgers after he said he was about to sign elsewhere, but whereas George and Wells actually got together and literally broke bread, Furcal's agents supposedly took the offer back to the Dodgers because Furcal wanted to stay there and be a shortstop. Dirty pool, but not unwarranted considering THEY were doing due diligence by their client.

After that, I start getting a little mean, so I'll shut up for now...

Btw, I wanted to add a shout-out to former MLB pitcher Dock Ellis, who was once quoted as saying that he wouldn't start against Oakland's Vida Blue in the All-Star Game because Major League Baseball would never start "two soul brothers'' against each other. That being the 70's and all, and much of the 70's flew over my head as I was but a little child, I wonder how that was received by the baseball fans at that time. I likely would have shook my head in agreement, but I also have to think, "does he mean soul-brother because they're black, or soul-brother because they both did so much drugs?" I dunno, I was just a kid, born in midst or end of their prime, so I have a lot of catching up to do.

Nevertheless, I do remember Dock Ellis being sort of a low-level folk hero among my sports-fan family members, so there's incentive to catch up. Diane Firstman at Bronx Banter makes a good point that it's a shame where you have a sport that has blown up so much economically on the backs of its former players, (glamorous or not I might add) that you have a former player like Dock Ellis who didn't even have health insurance and had to rely on the good will of his friends. Really, it is, and speaks volumes on the priorities of a country experiencing major economic downturns rivaling the Great Depression that insists on first bailing out the very businesses that helped cause the problems instead of the people who were victimized by their decisions.

After that, I get a little mean, so I'll shut up now... >;)

(Thanks again to Diane Firstman at Bronx Banter, who inspired much of this rant with her News of the Day column which I read semi-religiously. Also acknowledgments to for the Dock Ellis illustration by James Blagden)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sock & Awe! New Viral Game by PopJam

Recent events have brought to bear an outpouring of... um, expression, if you will. This game (from the folks at PopJam) is just a reminder of how cool the internet can still be when you have time on your hands, an imagination, a little bit of initiative and at least a firm annoyance with the administration of the 43rd President of the U.S.... Enjoy! >;)

(So far, my roommate has the top score in the SC network with a score of 7. Beat that! >;)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Home Girl Does Good!

Noemi Figueroa Soulet; Producer, Director, Writer of THE BORINQUENEERS!

The Borinqueneers is a powerful documentary about the all-Puerto Rican 65 Infantry Regiment who participated in the Korean War. This is a chapter in Puerto Rican History no one often talks about, as the press release states: “Their toughest fight was not on the battlefield! What does that mean; just see this documentary!" The film nationally premiered on PBS this past August. Noemi and the f elm crew spent nearly 9 years producing the film for no salary. As she stated: “Our goal was to tell the story of these unique soldiers from their previously unheard point of view. The research we did was viewing military records, personal collections and dozens of oral histories. We identified our interview subjects and went to work."

This past November 7, the documentary was shown at the Wechsler Theater, the same building which is the home of El Museo Del Barrio.’

Noemi gave CALL ME ISMAEL five minutes of her time to talk about the documentary.

CALL ME ISMAEL-“You’re a home-girl from the neighborhood. True?

NOEMI-“Yes! I was born in Puerto Rico but grew up in East Harlem. I used to live on 103rd Street, then on 117 Street, and lastly on 123 street-all on the East Side. My fondest memories are of going to the Cosmo Theater on weekends which was on 116 street between Lexington/Third Avenue. I would go see Spanish films from the Golden Era of Mexican films starring Pedro Infante, Cantinflas, Etc and going to La Marqueta on Park Avenue to shop. I still smell the odors from that market of spices and fish!

CALL ME ISMAEL -Showing this film to the people who grew up with you in the neighborhood. How did you feel?

NOEMI-“Coming back to my roots is a wonderful feeling. If I can inspire others from the old neighborhood to work hard to make their dreams come true, then that’s great!

CALL ME ISMAEL-Ken Burns! Are you critical of his new documentary which does not show any Latinos?

NOEMI-“The segment that I saw of the Ken Burns series “The War” did have some interviews of Latino veterans. But I do think that overall not enough of our Latinos stories have been told. That is the main reason I produced “The Borinqueneers” because noting had been visually documented in a feature-length format of this famous unit the 65 Infantry Regiment and I thought it was long overdue.”

CALL ME ISMAEL-In hearing some of the things these individuals went through was there ever any emotion from the crew.

NOEMI-“Some of the crew I hired did not even speak Spanish so they did not understand what the veterans were saying but, or course, you could hear the emotion in the voices of the veterans and know that something emotional was happening to them. For the crew that did not understand Spanish. I am sure they were moved by the interviews but, as professionals, they could not disrupt the interviews.”

CALL ME ISMAEL-You state that it’s about time we look out for ourselves when doing documentaries which profile us. What did you mean by that?

NOEMI-“Well I feel if others will not tell our stories then it’s our responsibility to tell our own stories-from our own unique perspective!

CALL ME ISMAEL-The documentary has been getting good feedback. True?

NOEMI-“We have received an overwhelmingly positive response from everyone who has seen the film. Puerto Ricans and non-Puerto Ricans, civilians, military, 65 veterans, and their continental officers! It really has made a powerful impact for many and we receive many, many, letters and phone calls from people thanking us for making the film.”

CALL ME ISMAEL- How much was the whole budget for the movie?

NOEMI-It is really hard to determine the exact budget because I spent nine years of my life working on this for no salary. We made four versions of the film. English/Spanish feature-length versions and English/Spanish one hour versions for PBS. There were many people who either gave us discounts or volunteered their time. So how much money was raised and actual worth of the films are two different things.”

CALL ME ISMAEL-Finally a three part question! Has Hollywood seen the film, do you see this documentary being a featured film, any Latino Actor past/present that you like to be casted.

NOEMI-“I think the story of the 65 Infantry Regiment has great potential to be a wonderful feature film. Some future prospects exist but there is nothing definite yet. The film was aired in Los Angeles, California but I don’t know how many people saw it who could make a film happen. Of course we have some wonderful actors who would be perfect to play Borinqueneers! Benicio Del Toro, John Leguizamo, Esai Morales, Jimmy Smits and many others. Let’s see what the future holds. Meantime, everyone can enjoy the documentary and visit our website at for more information on the film.

By the way you can also purchase a copy of the documentary at “El Museo Del Barrio” located at 104 street and Fifth Avenue.

Friday, December 12, 2008


There is a site (there is a site),
a certain site (a certain site),
a certain site you read it might
have you roll on the floor,
This certain site (this certain site)
with little might (with little might)
and with some irony
you'll all be banging down it's door,
You'll like this site (you'll like this site)
or maybe not (or maybe not)
I'm sure some people think
the makers should be found and shot,
But you'll agree (we hope you do)
as you shall see (go on and look!)
so click or ping the website,

dot commmmmmm...

Mm-hmm. Thanks to Nikki (my niece) for the link, and apologies to Herman J. Mankiewicz and Orson Welles for the satire. But as the title implies, the principle of this site is brilliant. Be it irony, offensive, trifling or just plain silly, don't be surprised if you hear something about it on the late-night talk shows. Shout out to the creator/s!

...ommmmmmmm... >;)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

fallout in the aftermath of the Obamenon...

perhaps this will be a long diatribe. perhaps will be something considerably less masturbatory. for my own sanity's sake, perhaps this should be something that finds the halfway point between the two.

it was just last night that will and i were talking about getting distance from election day 2008 in order to write about it with a clear head. we were joking about writing in such a way that it sounded like "i woke up, i voted, i went to work, i went home." basically, we both didn't want to make a big production number out of it.

will was over election day even before it arrived. like myself, he had grown tired of the election season and just wanted it to be over. as for myself, i was too busy thinking about the work that lied ahead of us to be overly jubilant about the election day outcome.

but something happened this morning that has caused me to finally write something for the site. if you have a facebook account, you've seen these little add-ons to your page where you can become supporters of artists, groups, or people you admire. last night, i become a supporter of michelle obama. one of my high school friends commented:

“that sort of took you a minute, really...”

something inside of me snapped after that. this was my response…

“GOD FORGIVE ME. i just saw this yesterday, so i added myself. sorry for not getting there 185,569 supporters earlier. i come here to build with people, not to find numerous things to support and superpokes to enact and whatever other bells and freakin' whistles to add to my page. to be real honest with you, i'm more happy to see michelle as 1st lady than i am about barack being president. that's why i added myself.

since this forces me to go into it, my vote was not an obama nor a mccain vote. it was a green party vote, the cynthia mckinney/rosa clemente ticket, to be precise. yes, i saw something on election day that i hadn't seen before and yes, i was in awe. and on some level, i was happy to see so many people happy, not just black people. at the same time, i will not allow myself to say 'yes, we did.' it implies that voting was all we had to do and now our part is done. and that is far from the case.

and beyond that, just exactly WHY was i supposed to show said support earlier? just because i'm black doesn't mean that obama support is automatically programmed into my dna and my melanin. members of the democratic party didn't show up in my 'hood with a negrocentric neural implant and a 'barack the vote' bar code to stamp on the back of my neck. one would think that i wouldn't have to explain this to people, but apparently i do.

(note to self: do not check facebook comments in the morning before you go to work...)”

"sheesh, i was sort of being whimsical there...." my friend replied about two hours later, only to counter with the following:

"note to you: remember to take this whole facebook thing with a proverbial grain of salt and try not to offend friends (offense taken)."

i suppose that's what i get for responding to such comments before nine in the morning. not for nothing, but "whimsical" is a place for two-year olds, peter pan and maybe michael jackson. i can understand it when my two-year old daughter's being whimsical. it becomes increasingly unnecessary and straight up annoying when grown-ass people do the same. life ain't a tim burton movie and your name ain't edward f**king scissorhands. and although i turned 35 the day after election day, i mentally feel twice that old, which means that i probably have no business being on a site like facebook. the grain of salt i should take things with i often treat like sand in the vaseline, because that's just me.

i've been accused by best friends, my wife, and plenty of other people that i overthink things too much. yeah well, for every person that overthinks things, there are at least 10,000 that don't think enough, if at all, so i suppose we all have some shortcomings to work on. but let me reel the anger in, because i make it sound like i'm unrepentent about all this, and that's not true. i threw out verbal daggers, somebody took offense to it and the power of Christ compelled me to make things right. so even though i stood by viewpoints, they admittedly could've been handled with more tact and i apologized for that. i closed the issue with the following thought:

"now everyone hug, make like post-racial muppets and sing "Obamahna" to the tune of "Mahna Mahna" and go about our business..."

remember mccain's concession speech and the torrent of boos from the crowd just from mentioning obama's name? remember him trying to quell the crowd in that same calm manner that he uses whenever he says, "my friends..."? did you notice a slight twinge in his voice and mannerisms at that moment that seemed to suggest that he really wished the booing throng would just shut the hell up, as if they had clearly done enough damage to his presidential run already?

remember jesse jackson's tears? ever stop to think that maybe, just maybe, his tears didn't necessarily translate into happiness for obama? let's be real: his tears could've meant a number of different things, either "that should've been me" or "i really wish martin was here" or "i really wish i hadn't talked about cutting barack's balls off in front of a live microphone."

and remember barack obama walking out onto the stage to a cheering crowd of thousands? of course you do. now please note that i said "walking" and not "floating" or "hovering." he does not walk on water. he does not have the cure for AIDS. and his win did not move us into a post-racial america. (and if you think i'm just pouring out haterade, you might want to have this conversation with the black muslim brother on staten island that got his ass beat by four white men on election day, just after barack was named our president elect.) to treat obama as some sort of cure-all or worse yet a messiah figure is setting the brother up to fail: he is a HUMAN BEING, prone to make mistakes, miss the mark, and not always get it right. may GOD protect him and the first family, but the sooner that this sits well with black america (and obama supporters of all backgrounds), the better off we'll all be.

okay, so...long diatribe. what do you want from me? just be thankful that this wasn't written before nine in the morning...i probably would've gotten this site shut down by lunchtime...