Saturday, November 8, 2008

Podcast Picks of the Week - 11/09/2008

It's been a busy two weeks, and I've been listening to quite a few podcasts. I've just not had the time to share them.

I won't reach back too far. However, I will say Rachel Maddow's show I love. I'm subscribed and download it religiously now. She's smart and funny. And an elitist like myself likes smart and funny analysis ;)

Slate V's election summaries are great:

The Onion:

Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters to Realize How Empty Their Lives Are. It's cute. The zombie angle dims the point a bit, but it's still very funny.

This timing is so.not.a.coincidence. Narciso Rodriguez's NY Fashion Week Spring/Summer runway show gets uploaded by the Fashion Network as a podcast after Michelle Obama wears one of his dresses the night her husband makes his historical acceptance speech.

Coincidence? Not... ;) BTW, I thought the dress was a fierce fashion choice. You haters can kiss it.

And here is one that has not a tinge of the political. Adam Yauch - Beastie Boy turned director talks about his documentary, Gunnin' for that Number #1 Spot.

It's all video right now because I'm at home, and I've got my iPod plugged into my TV. I've not doubled back to listen to the audio podcasts yet.


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  1. i love the Rachel Maddow show. She truly does give the O'reilly's of the world a run for their money with the progressive tip of her show.

    thanks also for the heads up about the onion podcast.

  2. Yes, her show is great. I just started watching Olbermann on Countdown. I'll need something to lull me through this politics withdrawal ;)

  3. Why would you watch a show that already agrees with you? Did you see Aflecks satire on Olbermann on SNL?
    By the way, what will the Obama network do now that he has been elected? (MSNBC)
    O'Reilly has his fault. His yearly 'war on Christmas" tirades are an obsession with him and he does try to bully people but unlike Olbermann he does have people on that disagree with him. Where Keith will have on the usual sycophants like Wolfe and Fineman.

  4. That's a valid point for sure. I'd say I'm gravitating to these shows because they do echo my views and there is also the feeling that left leaning, liberal shows are finally getting traction. However, don't be so naive to think that this is all I watch or read. I'm putting these up because they're my favorites.

    Rachel Maddow however was working my nerves last week when she was talking about Obama's 50 state strategy like it was a bad idea. I mean isn't that one big problem the Dems had? They had that image of being too narrow in their focus and leaving out the white working class American voter. So I saw the 50 state strategy as a great idea because it's a shame the Dems focus got so narrow (or appeared so narrow) that it became a zero sum "us vs. them" game between working class people of all races.

    I raise that to say that even left leaning shows have points that I most definitely don't agree with. It's also just after 8 years of feeling under siege by neo-cons and the far right, I'm glad there is a crazed liberal frothing at the mouth on TV.

    Anyway, I watch them probably for the same reasons people on the right watch or listen to right wing leaning shows (and, I know, not everyone does and that people do cross to listen to the other side.)

  5. I hope for all our sakes that Obama and the dems can govern effectively.
    I tend to be a cultural moderate and fiscal conservative.
    And yes, I am an old white coot.
    May i ask a racial question?
    Have you read in the American Scholar, Charles Johnson's tome on ' The End of the Black American Narrative" ? and if so your thoughts.
    Roland J Fryers thoughts on "acting white"?

  6. Oh and yeah, I saw Afleck's Olbermann. I thought it was really funny, especially, the condo co-op cat issue. That was just silliness.

    I read Johnson's piece awhile back. I replied about it somewhere else, so let me just copy that here (the quotes from his essay are in italics):


    With that said, I agree with his points that, look, 40 some years after the civil rights movement the black American experience is far from a monolith.

    It's time we make room for different stories and different perspectives because I do see, at times, a crabs in a barrel mentality. "We ain't nothin', we can't be nothin' and we ain't never gonna be nothin'". I get on my cousins a lot for sending out negative mass emails that characterize blacks in a negative light. We're spreading a lot of our own bad press and I'm that cousin living abroad that sends out the opinionated reply rebutting whatever premise is in the email.

    I recently had a conversation with someone complaining that she got bad evaluations from her students because she was black. I responded that my evaluations have consistently been high and usually are higher than my white counter-parts. It's just this tendency among a lot of us to blame being black for a shortfall rather than asking "what is it that I'm possibly doing?" I do think focusing on that negative black American narrative will have you looking at the world in a way that just doesn't fit. This is particularly so when you're in a culture that has no relation to it and barely understands it.

    I did like that he quoted W.E.B. DuBois at length because I didn't need to read his follow up paragraph to see that we've got grasping materialists and thoughtful artists and a range of other blacks doing a myriad of things.

    What do we want? What is the thing we are after? As it was phrased last night it had a certain truth: We want to be Americans, full-fledged Americans, with all the rights of American citizens. But is that all? Do we want simply to be Americans? Once in a while through all of us there flashes some clairvoyance, some clear idea, of what America really is. We who are dark can see America in a way that white Americans cannot. And seeing our country thus, are we satisfied with its present goals and ideals?...

    If you tonight suddenly should become full-fledged Americans; if your color faded, or the color line here in Chicago was miraculously forgotten; suppose, too, you became at the same time rich and powerful;—what is it that you would want? What would you immediately seek? Would you buy the most powerful of motor cars and outrace Cook County? Would you buy the most elaborate estate on the North Shore? Would you be a Rotarian or a Lion or a What-not of the very last degree? Would you wear the most striking clothes, give the richest dinners, and buy the longest press notices?

    Even as you visualize such ideals you know in your heart that these are not the things you really want. You realize this sooner than the average white American because, pushed aside as we have been in America, there has come to us not only a certain distaste for the tawdry and flamboyant but a vision of what the world could be if it were really a beautiful world; if we had the true spirit; if we had the Seeing Eye, the Cunning Hand, the Feeling Heart; if we had, to be sure, not perfect happiness, but plenty of good hard work, the inevitable suffering that comes with life; sacrifice and waiting, all that—but, nevertheless, lived in a world where men know, where men create, where they realize themselves and where they enjoy life. It is that sort of world we want to create for ourselves and for all America.

    We're not all the same. Some people are into the superficial bling and others go much deeper. I also think you can have an appreciation for the superficial but also be deep (that's just rarer than not.)

    I also agree with this:

    No matter which angle we use to view black people in America today, we find them to be a complex and multifaceted people who defy easy categorization. We challenge, culturally and politically, an old group narrative that fails at the beginning of this new century to capture even a fraction of our rich diversity and heterogeneity. My point is not that black Americans don’t have social and cultural problems in 2008. We have several nagging problems, among them poor schools and far too many black men in prison and too few in college. But these are problems based more on the inequities of class, and they appear in other groups as well. It simply is no longer the case that the essence of black American life is racial victimization and disenfranchisement, a curse and a condemnation, a destiny based on color in which the meaning of one’s life is thinghood, created even before one is born. This is not something we can assume.

    We're not one group the way we were after slavery and I'm sure that even then we had freemen vs. slaves vs. black immigrants. Now we have West Indians, African immigrants, blacks who've migrated from other nations like Europe and Canada (which isn't far at all...I know this). I'm just pointing out black Americans don't all have the same background. I notice this when I get together in a group of blacks here in Seoul. Some of us do have that black American background where our families are based in the south and, from there, branched out. However, there are people are from South Africa, whose families are from Africa or from the West Indies. There is variety in our group and my black American experience of soul food cookouts in the summer isn't something my friend with parents who immigrated to the States from Nigeria relates to. We have to allow for those stories and no be hostile to them.

    But if the old black American narrative has outlived its usefulness as a tool of interpretation, then what should we do? The answer, I think, is obvious. In the 21st century, we need new and better stories, new concepts, and new vocabularies and grammar based not on the past but on the dangerous, exciting, and unexplored present, with the understanding that each is, at best, a provisional reading of reality, a single phenomenological profile that one day is likely to be revised, if not completely overturned. These will be narratives that do not claim to be absolute truth, but instead more humbly present themselves as a very tentative thesis that must be tested every day in the depths of our own experience and by all the reliable evidence we have available, as limited as that might be. For as Bertrand Russell told us, what we know is always “vanishingly small.” These will be narratives of individuals, not groups. And is this not exactly what Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of when he hoped a day would come when men and women were judged not by the color of their skin, but instead by their individual deeds and actions, and the content of their character?

    I believe this was what King dreamed and, whether we like it or not, that moment is now.

    I don't like how he seems to be attacking the black American narrative in some parts. I don't like the use of the word "better" because that implies something is worse. That is definitely part of our story. Some of us focus on it quite a bit and others don't. I try to balance it. It's definitely my history but I'm also a black American who has gone to the best schools possible both in the States and abroad. Due to those pieces of paper, I've been able to travel much further than a lot of the white kids I went to school with. I don't think that had anything to do with race. That had everything to do with ambition, choice and how I see the world because most of the white peers I'm referring to just chose a more mainstream lifestyle.

    I do like how he gets on the scholars who didn't figure out that author Emma Dunham Kelley-Hawkins was white. They had just assumed she was black and didn't do their homework, but just assumed.

    For me it comes down to simply agreeing with him that the story is going to evolve and change, for sure. It must. However, for me, there will always be a need to remember those who came before me. I know he's not saying don't remember, but it seems he's a bit too good at discounting that narrative. We just have to make room for more narratives."

    Anyway, I've not read or know anything about Professor Fryer's opinions on acting white. However, 'acting white' is a common accusation made to shame people in black America. I've been accused of it. It's basically a class issue. If you're seen to be too smart or too accomplished, you're acting white. It's so crazy that people who simply eat right and exercise have been accused of it. It's toxic. If you're taught to speak standard English, like my mother taught me, you're screwed with some people. It's something that's very internal and we need to resolve it sooner rather than later.

    Now there is an external element. It's the assumption from non-blacks that we all speak in Ebonics. Speaking to me you have no idea I'm black, and that's led to some funny situations in my past.

    Anyway, that's one long ass comment, so I'll leave it at that.


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