Thursday, November 30, 2006

Stressed: Music Selections

I'm keeping it fun because I'm in a foul mood right now. It's finals stress. I have two big projects and the corresponding papers due next week. They're both group projects, so it means a ton of work and coordinating with everyone so that things come together as smoothly as possible. There is just way too much going on.

What keeps me sane during these times is music, so let me share some artists helping to keep me sane. I'll just link to their MySpace pages because I don't even have time to link videos.

Jonny Lang - I really like his "Thankful" song. It's on his MySpace profile, so take a listen. (Thanks to Martin W. for turning me on to this artist.)

Keane - I'm listening to both Hopes and Fears and Under the Iron Sea. In fact, I think I'll fire up Under the Iron Sea right now.

Mary J. Blige - I'm listening to her AMA winning album, The Breakthrough. I'm playing "Be Without You" over and over on my PDA. That's on her MySpace profile.

Jamie Cullum - He's amazing. All of his CDs are on my PDA and are in heavy rotation.

Alicia Keys
- Her Unplugged album is just great.

John Legend - His new album, Once Again, is a good groove.


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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Visited Countries - So Many Countries, So Little Time

Okay, I'm shifting gears (I'm also procrastinating because I should be working on a final project for one of my classes.) I'm sick of the serious topics, so here is something a bit more fun.

I discovered the World66 website through another blogger, but forgot who. (Whoever you are, sorry, but when I remember I'll update this post.) On that site you can create a map that shows the countries you've visited.

It's really cute. All you do is go to the website and tick the countries you've visited. Now I realize that I still have tons of places to travel to. But, comparatively speaking, I'm going to say "not bad" regarding where I've gone so far.***

The scary thing is I've only been to 14, or 6%, out of 193 countries that the US Department of State recognizes. Plus, there are continents that I've yet to touch.

I still have a huge number of frequent flier miles to accumulate. I'm tempted to go on a mad backpacking spree. However, honestly, I hate to sound like a Princess, but roughing it really isn't my thing.

create your own visited country map
or check our Venice travel guide

*** - I'm comparing myself to the average American whom most argue will never have passport.


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Monday, November 27, 2006

Michael Richards on Jesse Jackson's Radio Show

Paul Dawson's Channel WHAS11 (Louisville, KY) Interview trying to explain how these n-terms differ.

On Sunday, November 26th, Michael Richards appeared on Jesse Jackson's Keep Hope Alive radio show.

The Keep Hope Alive radio show and Premiere Radio Networks has uploaded the MP3 files to the show's website in four segments. You can go directly to the site, or I've linked them for you below. If you want to save it, just right click and either "save target as" or "save link as."

I heard what he had to say last night, and, okay, he's sorry. I, however, can't accept his apology for anyone else but myself as he's apologized to all black Americans. I still find his apology to be lacking. I want to see him out in my community making a genuine effort to bridge the racial divide he helped widen. That not only applies to Richards, but to a lot of people out there from black hip-hop stars to everyday people. More activism would benefit us, society and the world tremedously.

I agree with Reverend Jackson and others that it opens up the door for honest dialogue on the race issue. I've read a couple of commentaries that reduce it to "why can black people say the n-word, but white people can't?" dichotomy. That analysis is incredibly simplistic and ignores so much of the issue that I rarely ever engage in trying to explain why there is a difference. However, let me try.

Black Americans have a history of communicating in ways that whites simply find difficult interpret and understand. This was done for a very good reason: as a slave, you couldn't speak frankly in front of a slave master or overseer for risk of being beaten or worse. Clearly, that legacy still exists in black American English. We learned how to speak in code as slaves and that has carried on up to now. It's not another language as some have argued; however, I would argue that it is a distinct and constantly evolving dialect that is unique to my culture.

Within that context, I think using the term is confusing to whites because they see it as solely an offensive term. However, the meaning of the term very much depends on who is saying it and the context in which it is being said. I remember a case a few months back where a white teacher, Paul Dawson, elected to use the term when speaking to a black student. He explained that he used it because he hears the kids using it and he's heard it in various hip-hop lyrics, so it was a way to get the student's attention. He also tried to differentiate one term from another. What he ignored is that the context shifts when it's a white person speaking to a black person because of America's brutal history with the slave trade and violent legacy of racism. For me, I find it odd that some whites can't understand that between two young black men saying it doesn't hold the same offensiveness as a white man saying it to a young black man.

Another argument I've seen is a white person trying to argue that a black person using terms such as "cracker" or "honky" is just as offensive as a white person saying "nigger." The fact is the context of history and the existence of white privilege and power makes those two terms less offensive. A black person who has no power or financial resources to put their dislike of whites into action calling a white person a cracker or honky is a joke and a vain exercise of what little power that person has in the grand scheme of things. It's like a little girl who is mad at her father giving him a punch in the calf. Yeah, it might be annoying, but the sting is nominal.

Whereas the sting from being called a "nigger" is a reminder that we, as a people, were brought to America against our will. We were stripped of our language and prevented from passing on knowledge of our culture. Therefore, most black Americans know nothing about their origins but that their bloodline most likely originates from somewhere on the west coast of the African continent. In addition to not having knowledge of our roots, our ancestors were treated as subhuman. They were raped, and they were murdered; and, we've never received a formal apology from the US government. "Nigger" is a loaded term. "Cracker" or "honky" is not.

Should people not use the term? Well, that's what my mother believed. We'd discussed it a few times. I believe that in the context of black-on-black the meaning shifts. However, even if that's true, the popularity of using it in hip-hop and rap has caused a lot of confusion. In light of the explanation I may or may not have successfully explained above, I do think we need to censor ourselves and stop using the term.

Also, here is some media coverage on the interview:


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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Reactions to Michael Richards' Outburst

picture found at this link at Pretty on the Outside

Update, Sunday, November 26th (Saturday, November 25th for you all in North America): Richards To Appear On Jesse Jackson Show - Richards will appear on Jesse Jackson's syndicated radio show. I'll be exploring so I can find a radio station that broadcasts over the net. I've gotta hear how Richards' explains this.


I was going to add these to the Michael Richards Channels Mel Gibson post below. However, I know there will be more and there is a risk that the post will just be overwhelmed with tons of links and video clips. So, instead of adding new clips to the first post, I've created this one. I'll cross link posts for the sake of easy navigation.

Reactions to Michael Richards' Outburst (thanks to my cousin Leisa for the first two):

1. I knew I linked to Margaret Cho for a reason. Here is a perspective from a female, minority comic: Michael Richards

2. Sinbad, a comedian, weighs in

Comedian Sinbad weighs in (@ - just click on the link. It works best with Internet Explorer.)

I'm particularly impressed with what Sinbad had to say because he echoed what I said about racism in my podcast on Korea. Essentially, it's this. We're used to racism, so it doesn't surprise us when it happens. We see it as more of what was there all along finally coming out.

We’re a minority, man I ain’t shocked ...

I can believe he said it. I can believe that people can go there.
Sinbad is also dead-on with his observation quoting Martin Luther King when he said you get to know the true nature of people when you see them under pressure.

3. Paul Mooney, a comedian, weighs in (a hilarious racial joke at the end just to show you CAN deliver a racial joke without offending the whole room)

4. CNN - Daryl Pitts, an audience member, and comedian, Paul Rodriguez, weigh in

5. CNN - Reverend Al Sharpton weighs in

Spoof and Satire:

1. From in Jerry Stick a Fork in Me...I'm Done they've linked this video:
Well in the true spirit of parody, a YouTuber created a short pilot for what a racist ‘Kramer’ mini series would look like using a clip from an old Seinfeld show spliced with the now infamous KKKramer TMZ video and created this bastard child complete with the Seinfeld theme and a mortified Jerry.

2. The KKKramer Rap!'s so disturbing that I had to share it! Thanks to for posting it.


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Friday, November 24, 2006

Being Thankful and Being Responsible

Now I haven't linked to the big gun bloggers before because, well, they're big gun bloggers and already have tons of links pointing their way. But now that I think about it, me not linking probably has more to do with the fact that nothing they were saying really hit me hard.

I surfed over to Michelle Malkin's blog and read her post What American Journalists Should Be Thankful For. Its moving because she discusses all the places where journalists are having a much harder time and are even being killed because they've chosen to be critical about what's going on around them and then she turns that discussion to our own media elite.

Her observations have inspired me to get preachy, so you've been warned.

Americans should never loose sight of the benefits we have just by having US citizenship. However, we must also be responsible. We need to recognize that there are other countries that also have progressive policies. I don't know how many times I've had to deal with someone assuming that South Korea is almost as repressive and backwards as North Korea. With that, I get offended on behalf of the country that I've lived in for the last six years and usually flatten their assumptions fairly quickly.

So, yes, as Americans we have so much to be thankful for. As citizens of the most powerful nation on the globe, we also have the responsibility to take advantage of our access to this wealth of information and educate ourselves about that globe. Actually, a lot of us need to access information just to learn about our own history. When I watched the Thanksgiving episode of the Tonight Show with Jay Leno the Jaywalking segment wasn't very funny to me (if I can find a link to the video, I'll link it but NBC is pretty tough regarding NBC videos on YouTube or other sites.) Most people he spoke to couldn't answer BASIC questions about the origin of Thanksgiving. He also asked them to name the five branches of the US military and most couldn't. That's not funny. It's irresponsible and shameful. I realize it was edited for comedic purposes and that it's very well possible that the majority of the people he spoke with DID have a clue but it was edited to appear that people did not. All I can say is regarding that is I really HOPE that is true because it was pathetic.

We should be very thankful to be sure, but we also have to mindful of what it means to live in a democracy. As a public that has the right to influence our government, we need to have the knowledge to evaluate our choices and the resolve to step up when things are going wrong.

We haven't been doing that, and it's time we change.


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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Mercy Links, vol. 2

This is a great idea I stole from another blogger, Mike Antonucci, when he put a link to my blog in a post he named "mercy links."

This is second time I've done this, and it will be a semi-regular feature as blogging really is all about the virtual word of mouth.

So, in no particular order, here are the links:

  • What Would Tyler Durden Do? - I'll just lift this blogger's description of his blog:
    "What Would Tyler Durden Do" is a blog focused on bringing you the latest gossip and news about rich and famous celebrities. And then making fun of them. Why? Because fuck them, that's why.
    Bah hahahahaha...I gotta say that I totally agree.

  •'s blog - It's an interesting blog. Library Thing provides the book widget on the lower right hand side of my blog. I love them.


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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

PMS Survival Tips

It's happened to me where I've been in the foulest mood and then I realize "uh oh, I'm in the PMS zone." That's humbling to say the least (and it seems to be taking a stronger hold as I get older...why don't they warn you about this stuff?) Anyway, at least now I keep a calendar.

This is a funny clip from YouTube which makes fun of PMS by parodying the 1950s propaganda videos.



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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Being Black in Korea: My First Podcast on

The audio is below in "Update 3".

Well, I guess I'm officially in the blogosphere now.

My friend, Michael, at Metropolician called me up and asked me if I wanted to 1) be a guest blogger on his site and 2) record a podcast about being black in Korea.
I was hesitant regarding the first option, not because I don't have anything to say but because I just don't have that much time. However, once we got into the discussion and the ideas started flowing, I warmed up to it fairly quickly.

Regarding option two, I thought recording a podcast would be a great idea because too often I've found that people who aren't black, read whites, opine a bit too strongly about how tough it is here for black people. It's fine to have an opinon, but I've had a couple of conversations where a white person seriously tried to convince me about how bad it is to be black in Korea. Now as I'm black AND in Korea I find those conversations to be ridiculous. Yes, it's tough here on some levels, but on others it's no worse, and sometimes is better, than things back home or elsewhere.

Anyway, here is a link to the post, Podcast #25 _ Being Black in Korea (interesting comments), and a direct link to the podcast, Being Black in Korea. From the main page it's Podcast #25 – Being Black in Korea. I just heard it, and it's not bad. Just so you know the start has about a minute of a rap from Boogie Down Productions.

Here is my first Metropolitician blog post...give me a topic, please!


Update 1 : May 5, 2007 @ 9:00pm

I just got home from studying at a Starbucks in Itaewon. While I was there I met three black women who are all teaching ESL here too. Honestly, that makes me feel good to see more of us here because, as I say in the podcast, it might not be ideal, but it's not as bad as some people paint it to be.

It's nice to see more people who look like me after having it be so rare for so long.

Update 2: March 19, 2008 @ 7:45am

The Being Black in Korea topic is still going. In fact, it seems to be becoming a series. Mike has a few things going and a new one is where they create real conversations for students interested in learning English to listen to via iTunes or their iPods.

They've brought in Felicia who is also black and teaches in Korea to continue the conversation. This one even has a transcript. They're dealing more with lighter topics, but I didn't read the whole transcript.

Check it out for me and report back, okay?

BombEnglish: 폭탄영어 #7 - Being Black in Korea (Deep Conversation Series)


Update 3: December 12, 2011

Wow, well, my prediction that one day the audio would go missing came true.  However, it went missing while I was on my NYC adventure.  That basically means that the hard drive I'd saved it on anticipating that the audio would go AWOL one day was, well, AWOL.

However, now I'm back in California and guess what I found?

Here is the audio on Dropbox: Being Black in Korea. Ping me if that's down as I also have it on Amazon S3 (but I'm not using it until Dropbox cuts me off; see the instructions on how to reach me in my bio on the right.)

Update 3.1: October 7, 2012

I'm working off of a fancy new computer, and just posted this link on Quora: South Korea: What's it like to be black in Korea?. So I decided to test the Dropbox link. It's working just fine. You don't need a Dropbox account. Just click the link and you'll have the option to download and save the file. On my computer that's in the upper right hand corner of the page. I just downloaded it and it plays just fine.

BTW, I'm thrilled that people are still finding and listening to this. Mike and I definitely helped fill a need.


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Michael Richards Channels Mel Gibson

Wow! You know I'm glad that in the week after I decided it's time to wind down and possibly pack up and move back home to L.A. that two events happen there to make me wonder if maybe not moving back would be a better idea.

The first is directly below. That's the UCLA student who got a taser taken to him a few times by the UCPD on campus at Powell Library.

Now we have another over the top event. Michael Richards from Seinfeld lost his temper while on stage performing at the Laugh Factory. He was being heckled, and he called them "niggers" because they happened to be black hecklers. In addition to using that racial epithet, he said other things that were downright offensive.

I thought hecklers were par for the course when you do stand-up, so shouldn't he be used to it by now?

Anyway, here is the clip that incident that being sent all over the Internet:

Needless to say, I was really shocked to see him go off like that. I think he was trying to make it seem like he was pushing the envelop in terms of humor, but it seems it is more rage than anything close to comedic wit.

I decided to post it when I saw his apology during Seinfeld's appearance on The Late Show.

Here is that clip:

I do think Letterman's question to Richards about what he would have done had the hecklers been of another race was a good question to ask.

His apology was the least he could do. Talking about race relations and Katrina fell flat for me. Those issues are the ones he should have thought of BEFORE he snapped.

It was horrible and wrong of him to say what he said. I don't care if these guys had been mooning him from their seats.

From my perspective, there isn't much he can say. The "I'm sorry" doesn't change that he showed his true colors that evening. What's interesting is in both the Richards incident and the Gibson one both claim that they will take “necessary steps to ensure my return to health” or that they need "personal work."

That very well might be true. However, isn't it more probable that they're just racists or bigots?

More links (videos have been moved to this post - Reactions to Michael Richards' Outburst): (gossip) - Richards' Rant - Not the First Time (now it's come out that he's ranted before, not about blacks but about Jews.)
PerezHilton (gossip) - In His Own Words
Washington Post - 'Seinfeld' Comic Richards Apologizes for Racial Rant


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Saturday, November 18, 2006

UCLA: the UCLA Police and Tasers

Well, I was on and a flyer kept coming up talking about police brutality at UCLA. I then popped over to and saw that people were running searches for "UCLA", "UCLA taser", etc. Clearly, something was up at my alma mater, so I clicked on the link to a video titled "UCLA Police Taser Student at Powell."

For those of you who aren't familiar with UCLA, Powell Library is one of two general libraries on campus. It's pretty much in the center of the campus across from Royce Hall. When I was there I used it for studying and for its computer lab. The computer lab is where this event took place. The video is shocking, so don't say I didn't warn you.

Here is a link to Video Shows UCLA Police Using Stun Gun On Student from the L.A. NBC affiliate, KNBC. It also has the same video along with news commentary and an interview with a witness.

Here is the accompnaying article:

LOS ANGELES -- An administrative review was under way after a 23-year-old student was administered multiple stun gun shocks by UCLA Police Department officers in the Powell Library computer lab.

Video shot from another student's camera phone shows the man screaming while on the floor of the computer lab as officers used the stun gun on him at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Daily Bruin.

He had been working at a computer in the back of the lab and had failed to produce a student ID during a random check performed by community service officers, the newspaper reported.

According to a UCLA police sergeant, the student was identified as Mostafa Tabatabainejad of Los Angeles.

He was given a citation for obstruction/delay of a peace officer in the performance of duty and then released from custody, the sergeant said.

The sergeant said he saw Tabatabainejad after it happened and that he did not appear to have suffered serious injury.

"If he was able to walk out of here, I think he was OK," the sergeant said.

In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, Nancy Greenstein of the University of California Police Department said: "All use of force incidents require an administrative review, which is currently under way."

Officers were escorting Tabatabainejad out of the computer lab when the trouble started, according to the Daily Bruin. One of the officers placed a hand on one of his arms, to which the student objected.

As a second officer approached, he repeatedly yelled "get off of me," the newspaper reported.

It was then that one of the officers shot Tabatabainejad with a stun gun, dropping him to the floor as he cried out, according to the newspaper.

"Any student who witnessed it was left with an image you don't want to remember," said a witness who asked not to be identified.

When asked whether the student resisted when officer attempted to escort him from the building, the witness said, "In the beginning, no. But when they were holding onto him and they were on the ground, he was trying to just break free. He was saying, 'I'm leaving, I'm leaving.' It was so disturbing to watch that I cannot be concise on that. I can just say that he was willing to leave. He had his backpack on his shoulder and he was walking out when the cops approached him. It was unnecessary."

Greenstein said a Community Service Officer employed by the library was performing a nightly check to ensure that all patrons using the library after 11 p.m. were authorized to be there.

"This is a longstanding library policy to ensure the safety of students during the late-night hours," Greenstein said. "The CSO made an announcement that he would be checking for university identification. When a person, who was later identified as ... Tabatabainejad, refused to provide any identification, the CSO told him that if he refused to do so, he would have to leave the library.

"Since, after repeated requests, he would neither leave nor show identification, the CSO notified UCPD officers, who responded and asked Tabatabainejad to leave the premises multiple times. He continued to refuse. As the officers attempted to escort him out, he went limp and continued to refuse to cooperate with officers or leave the building.

Greenstein said Tabatabainejad encouraged others in the library to join his "resistance." She said a crowd gathered around the officers.

"The officers deemed it necessary to use the Taser in a 'drive stun' capacity," she said in the statement. "A Taser is used to incapacitate subjects who are resistant by discharging an electronic current into the subject in one of two methods: via two wired probes that are deployed from the Taser, or in a 'drive stun' capacity by touching the subject with the Taser. In this incident the student was not shot with a Taser; rather, officers used the 'drive stun' capability.

"The entire incident is under investigation, and a case will be presented to the City Attorney," Greenstein's statement read.

The video shows the student shouting, "Here's your Patriot Act, here's your (expletive) abuse of power," the newspaper reported.

University police are investigating an incident late last night in which police took a student into custody at Powell Library. Investigators are reviewing the incident and the officers' actions, and I can assure you that these reviews will be thorough, vigorous and fair.

The safety of our campus community is of paramount importance to me. Routinely checking student identification after 11 p.m. at the campus library, which is open 24 hours, is a policy posted in the library that was enacted for the protection of our students. Compliance is critical for the safety and well-being of everyone.

UCLA's response (Nov. 17, 2006):

UCLA Acting Chancellor Norman Abrams Announces Independent Investigation of the Incident at Powell Library


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Thursday, November 16, 2006

John Mayer on Oprah

I'm posting this for those of you who don't live in the States and can't watch Oprah. Of course, it will also come in handy for those of you who missed it wherever you might be or for those of you who have an unstable obsession with John Mayer.

He was on her show today and his industrious fans have already managed to get it uploaded to the net. I'm lucky as the show does air here, so I got to zip home from work and watch the broadcast. In fact, now that it's over I'm heading out for a pint or two of beer and dinner.

Anyway, he was also blogging from Oprah's very beige greenroom. You can look at those here. It's in reverse chronological order. In case you're not familiar with blogging:

  1. Oprah Live
  2. Blogs Need Pictures
  3. The Throw
  4. Success
I'm definitely a teacher. ;-)

I'll keep this short and sweet my dears. Thanks to ZenChick on MySpace for getting these up.


Part 1

Part 2


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Saturday, November 11, 2006

In Spite of the Expense, Tokyo is One Fun City

This is my second trip to Tokyo and my sixth or seventh one to Japan. I flew over yesterday to see John Mayer in concert at Yebisu Garden Hall. And, yes, in spite of the expense of Tokyo (not the show), it was worth it. I went to a good show, met some fun people and am on a much needed weekend vacation.

My boy looked tired, but it was the last night of a tour that he's been on since August. He played and performed well. He also engaged the crowd, and that is always fun. The venue was small, so unlike home in the States where Mayer plays these huge venues, relatively speaking, everyone was up close. Honestly, I don't think I'd bother with going to a concert of his in the States. I'm just thinking it would be mayhem with all the rabid fans. It was bad enough last night when he tossed some guitar picks into the crowd. It was like he was tossing bread to the starving. At the concert I met one girl who was just intent on meeting him. As it makes for good story telling and funny photo ops, I chose to hang with her after the show. It was fun to trail someone else around and let them make all the decisions. Yes, I've got a funny 'Friday night in Tokyo' story. Eventually, she gave up and we met up with a guy we'd met at the show. She left early, but I ended up staying out drinking and talking until about 4am.

Today's plan was to take advantage of free admission through someone else I met to Tokyo Disneyland, but I woke up to pouring rain. That was good as the plan was to get to Disneyland early, so I got some well-needed sleep. I spent the day exploring Shibuya and wandering around my favorite area of Tokyo, Harajuku. I fell in love with the district the first time I visited Tokyo because it's the fast track to a shopping orgasm. As I've not had time to follow fashion and what the designers are putting out there, I was happy to see that my accessories (Ugg boots and dangling fur ball earrings) were all the rage in some of the Harajuku stores I visited. That helped my fashion esteem because with my schedule my uniform has been a supply of athletic pants, Converse All Stars, and baggy t-shirts. It's a more of a haggard student look than fashion forward look. I upped my clothes a notch this weekend and dusted off the accessories I'd been not bothering with because, if anything, the Japanese love their fashion and I wanted to match.

I've got one more day here, and I'll fly back to Seoul tomorrow. I'm telling you, if you ever get the chance to come to Tokyo, do it. It's huge, overwhelming, easy to get lost in (and I tend not to get lost), but it's worth every moment of madness because it's a great city with some interesting people.

Over and's time to hit one of the 100 yen stores and then figure out what I'll have for dinner.


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Sunday, November 5, 2006

Kanye West is a Damn Crybaby Reloaded

Okay, I usually ignore most entertainment stories, but this is damn pathetic.

Kanye West's antics at the MTV Europe Music Awards was just ridiculous and took away almost all the good PR he earned with the Hurricane Katrina outburst (come on, you know that's what a lot of folks were thinking...he just said it.)

But this "I spent a million dollars" and "Pamela Anderson" shit is embarassing. First, who says that money and cheap ass gimicks beat creativity? Second, why would you expect folks in Europe to have an appreciation for the lame hip-hop "money equals success" approach to entertainment and marketing?

Anyway, here are two links from the What Would Tyler Durden Do? blog that sum it up for me:

Kayne, this is one time where shutting up would have been a very good idea.


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