Friday, July 31, 2009

White House Beer Summit Triggers New Trend

Since the recent arrest of Prof. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. by Officer James Crowley, there have been dozens of arrests since the announcement of the beer summit of african american professors by white police officers. "I wanna have a beer with the President" said Office Bryan Sweeney, of the Princeton Police Department, "that's why I brought in Professor Dawson of the Physics Department." Dawson was charged with disorderly conduct by Sweeney after Dawson criticized Sweeney for giving him a parking ticket in a tow-away zone.

Apparently, not all arrests have been involuntary. At the University of Chicago, Professor of Black Literature Oscar Hayes, arranged to be arrested by Officer James O'Hara. "I told O'Hara to stay in front of the student union at lunch, and that I would snatch a student's purse and would let him grab me before I got on my bike" The plan worked as intended, and both Hayes and O'Hara are scheduled to have a beer with the President later this week. "I'm bringing a Pilsner", said Hayes. "Sam Adams" said a grinning O'Hara.

The White House appointments office has been overwhelmed with scheduling beer summits for the next month, and is considering buying a few kegs and maybe having a symbolic tug-of-war on the White House lawn with the 42 pairs of arrestees and arresting officers. Some of the more enterprising white officer/african american professor couplings have created a new website called "We need to raise awareness of this simple and easy way to get a sit down with the Commander-in-Chief, something that few white, middle-class police officers and african-american professors rarely experience."

Prof. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Arrested Again by Same Officer

AP News

In a shocking turn of events, Prof. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., arrested at his own home as a result of a 911 call reporting a prowler, was rearrested in Washington by Police Officer James Crowley, the same officer who arrested him in Cambridge. Both Gates and Crowley were invited by President Barack Obama to the White House to reconcile over a beer.

According to Officer Crowley, he was approaching the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue when he saw a man with a beer can inside a paper bag. "Clearly this is illegal in any jurisdiction", said Crowley. I saw the concealed liquor inside the bag, near the White House, and my law enforcement instincts kicked in. I immediately wrestled the perp to the ground and put the cuffs on him."

Enraged by this latest indignity, Professor Gates, through his lawyer issued the following statement. "What the fuck!"

Alarmed by the news, President Obama tried to calm both sides by offering a peaceful sit-down at the White House. "This time it will not be BYOB and maybe we'll smoke a joint, I don't know." Prof. Gates is rumored to be considering changing his first name to Bill to, as he said, "Get some respect from the Man."

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

More Words on Jacko

I was watching one of the memorial shows yesterday where they played his videos over and over. I realized today that I was watching with a different eye than when he was alive. I was more in awe yesterday of his talent while watching them than I was in the past. Today, I thought, hey, wait a minute, I never really liked "Thriller". I thought it was slightly disturbing and somewhat melodramatic; the "Bad" video I remember feeling that it glorified bad guys and Michael Jackson as one of them was not believable (nor were the other "bad" guys since most of them were so obviously just dancers). I also remember being repulsed by his jock grabbing in his videos and on stage. A skinny, wimpy guy like MJ acting macho by grabbing his groin? Kind of out of place.

So I was thinking to myself, "Why the change of mind?" I believe it's what happens when just about anyone dies: we tend to look back at them in the most positive light, and see their acts as purer or better than they actually were, and maybe even impute motives that weren't there. So, I can't agree with labels like: he was the greatest entertainer ever (not for me). Andrea Peyser of the New York Post may have gone too far, but I think the gist of her statement, that Jackson's death has blinded us to many negative aspects of his life, is right.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Michael Jackson

What did Michael Jackson and his passing mean to me? For starters, many of his old songs when he was young and a member of the Jackson Five evoke a lot of childhood memories. We were contemporaries by age, but ages apart as far as talent and impact (obviously). "I'll be There" and "ABC" will always bring back memories of my family's permanent settlement in Washington Heights in Upper Manhattan, at the age of 9. There are other songs by other artists that bring me back to those times, but I think Jackson's, ironically and portentously, have a ring of innocence and stray from most of the anti-establishment music from that era. The irony and the portent can be found in Jackson's later claims and defense to be an innocent child-like waif, and his attempts to live a child-like existence in Neverland. Songs like "Thriller", "Billy Jean", and "Wanna be Startin' Somethin'", will remain personal favorites.

The problem with Jackson for me was that there was a big chasm between who he was on stage and who he was personally. This wasn't about being reclusive and inaccessible, but more about being an enigma that was hard to understand, hard to label or categorize beyond being weird and unusual. In those occaional polls where people are asked to pick one person in the world they would like to spend an hour with in conversation, I doubt that Jackson's name would ever come up. What would one have said to him or asked him?

His plastic surgeries didn't help, nor did the controversy over his skin condition, if there was a skin condition. These factors made Jackson enough of a mystery, but the allegations of sexual molestation and his bizzare behavior during the trials only made matters worse. I wanted Jackson to be innocent, but it was hard to believe he was just based on his weirdness. His claims that there was nothing wrong with grown men sharing beds with young children did not help his case either.

Did we know anything else about Jackson other than his weirdness? Anything about his outside interests, if he had any? No. The world knew him simply as a child star who went to become a superstar in his own right, and whose behavior and appearance became stranger as he got older. What else was there for us to consume about Jackson? Pehaps that was only available to his inner circle and handlers, but not to his fans and the rest of the public. May he rest in peace.