November 30, 2010



Just before receiving a Bachelor’s degree in journalism I went to my career advisor to ask for some advice on the game of job hunting. “You should try,” she said after her smile leaked down past her chin.
     In the silence that ensued following her response I thought of buildings falling down. I thought of dark city streets littered with glowing pairs of paranoid eyes and the future proclamation of an Internet hoax that said Americans would spend fifteen years fending for themselves in a chaotic and broken down environment. I thought of clutching a loaf of bread, crawling on hands and knees past groups of rioters as they threw bricks through front window shop displays. Then I thought how all the destruction of the coming years will need one thing and one thing only to rebuild: Cement.
     Not journalism, not creative writing, philosophy, music theory or history, but Cement and its final counterpart, concrete. My future proclamation to make on the Internet right now is that Cement is and will be everything in the decades smoldering before us. So much so that it must be capitalized from here on out.
      Soon children will come from the womb with a nostril structure that easily deals with floating dust particles of unmixed Cement. They will learn in school, not the difference between ‘there,’ ‘their,’ and ‘they’re,’ but the difference between gypsum, slag and fire. They won’t spend time molding oblong hunks of clay into crappy pottery, but will learn to lay and cut perfect gravestones. We’ll need a lot of those in the future. When an ancient disease swindles its way back into the Third World, we’ll need Cement to cover the casualties. When a natural disaster guts a whole city, we’ll need Cement, piles and piles of it, to drop right on top like whooped cream on a sundae. And if that’s a little insensitive to you then, guess what, you need some Cement poured over your emotions because we definitely don’t need those in the future.
     Our world is about to crumble (is crumbling!) like that Mississippi River Bridge and only those with the proper knowhow will have a stake in its reconstruction. Throw out your diplomas, GEDs, Associate's and Bachelor’s degrees and if you’re thinking of graduate school, you better prepare your concrete-and-brimstone thesis fast because Cement waits for no one.

November 18, 2010

Kanye West gets greasy with 'Dark Fantasy'

Rapper dissects fame, gangbangs, & himself with pure open honesty
    Fame can be an interesting characteristic to watch someone progress through. Some people, like, say George Clooney can handle it well, while others like, hm, Amy Winehouse, can’t so much. Some just turn weird with it and Kanye West has certainly walked that route a few times.
    His hiatus in Japan after that dumb MTV award thing is over and he’s returned from Hawaii where his new album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was recorded. He’s been hyping it up releasing music weekly through his GOOD Music series online, type-jousting with “The Today Show” and, for some reason, apologizing to former President George W. Bush for that dumb Katrina thing.

    It’s all a perfect lead-in for Fantasy, officially available November 22 on Roc-A-Fella Records. The album is carefully structured to propel you, by spaceship, through the rapper’s psyche as he deals with fame, his unraveling relationship and strong penchant for drugs. He unlatches the door to his mind and spills all this perverted, wasted brain matter everywhere.

    When the beat for “Dark Fantasy” drops, a dark magenta sunset appears behind your eyelids and you’re off. It’s classic Kanye: bouncy, orchestral, spiritual, asking, “Can we get much higher?” And you do. Once song one drowns out, song two, “Gorgeous,” bursts right in with bruising purple guitar and, god it feels so good.

    He has added another dimension to his musical palette and brought along a gang of friends to help celebrate. RZA, Pete Rock, Madlib, Q-Tip and Swizz Beats all show up on production, while Alicia Keys, Rihanna, Chris Rock, Elton John and Drake are just a few who make cameos.

    “Monster” and “So Appalled,” both previously released, take the listener down a dark corroding midnight alleyway. The focus is all on the raps and Jay-Z masters on both songs. He drips like the goop from a cave on “Monster,” right before Nicki Minaj takes off squawking about bank-robbing, so sweetly haunting. Pure doom arrives with the chamber-echoed goblin synths of “So Appalled.” When West mentions the “most fly Prada,” he sounds sick of the tag and the world around him, while Jay-Z shivers with a “Dark Knight feeling.”

    West has honed his lyrical skill. No longer are his self-lacerations clunky with name-dropping all the crap he buys – though, that’s still there – but, he’s telling a very personal tale about the messy aftermath of lovers separating. “Devil in a New Dress” softens the mood with a smooch from Smoky Robinson. It’s this album’s “Flashing Lights,” the bittersweet breakdown of a relationship playing itself out. It evolves into a beautiful guitar jam and ends with a diced Rick Ross rap. The fuzzy farting bass of “Hell of a Life” keeps the album from rattling off and drifting. It’s a damn ride through West’s manic mind reduced to a crisp as he propositions, and then marries a porn star in the bathroom.

    As exciting as the record is it does come with its faults. Some songs drift on too long with unnecessary outros. The final three minutes of “Runaway” sound like West licking his AutoTuner all over as he copes with loneliness. “All of the Lights” is jam-crammed with guests and West sounds like Li’l Wayne. Not a bad thing, but the chorus explodes with bongos, horns and Rihanna, who you can almost feel. It’s a little overcrowded in the headphones.

    Fantasy, however, is one more notch in West’s fascinating journey through music. He continues to take chances like nobody else in pop music today, and that’s bound to cause a few missteps here and there, but one can’t deny the stranglehold he has on his career. Whatever he comes up with is always sure to be worth a listen and a couple head-bobs.

Best Tracks: “Gorgeous,” “Hell of a Life,” “Devil in a New Dress”

November 16, 2010



    I was just in NYC (to eat my first McRib sandwich in years) and Amar’e Stoudemire clobbered the walls of Madison Square Garden (where they served the McRibs) and I’ve got to say, he looked a little sad. It’s not his fault. Phoenix Suns owner Robert “Lowball” Sarver offered him a raw deal (with unguaranteed years and less cash) to stay in the valley of the sun (and meth-labs). Stoudemire took the comfy offer from the New York Knicks wanting to be holy team captain (only he ended up a co-captain with troll Raymond Felton).
    So now the Knicks have Phoenix’s old coach, Mike D’antoni AND Phoenix’s old forward, and, oh yeah, now the old Nash-to-NY trade rumors have been jostled again and there’s talks of sending HIM to the Knicks if Phoenix can’t prove their playoff worth early. And well, now I’m wondering if Al-Qaeda might be Phoenix Suns supporters. How insulting to have three of the most powerful minds, responsible for taking Phoenix so far in the playoffs only a few scant seasons ago, all working on another team in the East! What the fuck is that!?
    But these are just rumors, made up by greedy mischievous sports journalists and I should just ignore them and swallow the puke in my throat. Aaaaaah. And anyway the Suns have looked great so far this infant season, though caveman Robin Lopez is now injured. Regardless of Wednesday night’s loss to the Miami Heat, the Suns just ran through two top Western teams – the Denver Nuggets and the Los Angeles Lakers – in back-to-back games no less! It’s been a marvelous week for the team. Jason Richardson, literally on flames, helped achieve a team record of 22 three-pointers! Against LA! And Steve Nash got divorced this week! And had his third child on Friday! For lunch! Things are OK in Phoenix! Just please retire a Sun Steve, I don’t want to have to make homemade bombs and blow up Madison Square Garden and US Airway Center because if I can’t have you, no one will.