This evening I spent a good amount of time trying to decide what to post. Totally afflicted with writer’s block, or I guess in this case blogger’s block, I finally caved and turned to wiki for some inspiration. I became engrossed with the random articles and links about the origins of hip hop, and almost forgot my original intention.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the vids posted below. I definitely tried to go past the 1990’s, and into the earlier days of hip hop. As a note, I’ve never actually seen the vid of “Rockit” before, and now I feel slightly traumatized. I would put masturbating mannequins in the “never needed to see” category.

Herbie Hancock – Rockit

Kurtis Blows – The Breaks

It’s hard to complain about the Beijing Olympics. It’s set in one of the most mysterious, exotic, and beautiful places in the world. Add on top of that, the Chinese penchant for extravagance and perfection and you get a hell of a show. The opening ceremony will go down as the greatest ever, thousands of synchronized drummers and fireworks providing a show worthy of past emperors. I definitely watched from beginning to end.

Since the opening ceremonies though, the Olympics and China have experienced feats and embarrassments. As expected world records have been broken, gold medals won, but the controversies have gotten more attention. It started with the random murder of an American, and continued into potentially underage gymnasts. But I guess that’s to be expected. When you bring all these cultures together, with different sets of values on the world stage, the ambition to “look good” supercedes all.

I do have many issues with how China has run the Olympics, but I can’t remember the last time I’ve been so immersed. So far, it’s definitely been a great show and there’s more to come.

However, I do have one complaint about the Olympics. It has to do with the broadcast and presentation by NBC. The casual conversation between G.W. Bush and Bob Costas left a jingoist taste in my mouth. I cringed when they discussed human rights violations in China without discussion of Iraq and Guantanamo Bay. Obviously, NBC would take a pro-American approach for the Olympics, but at times they take it too far.

Anyway, the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics are looking like the best ever. I’m gladly staying up until 1am every night watching, and am anxiously awaiting USA Basketball.

Damn. Is it possible to have forgotten about Michael Jackson? I won’t say that I necessarily blacked out the King of Pop, but he’s definitely been in the back of my mind for a minute. It’s a shame that someone who defined pop music for more than decade has been relegated to the shadows of the public conscience. But throw “Billie Jean” or “Thriller” on the Hi-Fi and people will inevitably submit to the epitome of pop genius.

While anxiously awaiting the start of Michael Phelps latest ridiculous feat, we decided to throw on a couple on-demand Michael Jackson videos to pass the time. The highlight for me was “The Way You Make Me Feel” one of the gems from Bad, a cassette I begged my mom to play in the car every time we took a road trip when I was six. She got so sick of that record…but I still know all the lyrics. Check out the video, imagine yourself approaching a woman like this:

Supreme x Tera Patrick

August 13, 2008

Occasionally my roommates and I will cut out clippings from newspapers and magazines that we find interesting or provocative and post them on the fridge and kitchen wall (ok fine, I’m pretty much the only one that does this, but still). One such clipping that’s been on display for several months now is a striking Supreme ad that I tore out of Vice. It features a busty brunette woman scantily clad in a bikini hugging a skate deck. Her expression is…suggestive. I cut it out simply because I thought it was fucking awesome. What’s not hot about a sexy woman posing with a skate deck?

The ad has become somewhat of a fixture of our decor, and to be honest I hadn’t really thought about it in a while until today. That is until I read in the latest issue of Complex that the woman is in fact pornstar Tera Patrick. I must admit that I was taken aback by this discovery, not so much that Supreme would use her in one of their ads (their mantra as a brand seems to be “If you don’t like it, step off”) but that a pornstar would be in an apparel ad to begin with. Supreme is a brand that prides itself on existing on the fringes and I’m wondering if we’ll begin to see a similar trend with other such “cooler than thou” brands. Are pornstars and other societal outliers the next way to earn street cred for your brand? It’s funny to think about, but in this day and age, where every brand is looking for a way to make a name and turn heads, it might not be that far from reality.

Thanks to Soybomb for holding down the Old School Hip Hop Sundays posts. I couldn’t help but share my thoughts about 2Pac, perhaps the defining artist of my adolescence.

It’s hard to say what first attracted me to 2Pac, being the privileged suburban white kid that I was. No doubt much of the intrigue revolved around the fact that his records were risqué and put my parents on red alert. No way in hell their son was going to listen to an album with that abominable PARENTAL ADVISORY sticker plastered on the cover. So I lived life on the edge, dubbing records from friends or purchasing them on trips to Strawberries with the babysitter. I’m sure much of the appeal also had to do with my misconstrued adolescent angst and retarded notion of being misunderstood. Somehow singing along to “Fuck The World” made me feel better about cleaning my room. Needless the say, the music bumped and even a 14 year old could appreciate 2Pac’s poetic prowess. I’d also like to think that a part of me sympathized with 2Pac’s struggle with being a thug with a heart. How could the same man pen a song like “Keep Your Head Up” then be arrested for rape shortly after?

Regardless, there I was with posters covering the walls, tying a bandanna on my head with the knot in the front while singing about thug life. It makes me laugh looking back on it, but you know what…that’s how influential his music could be. 2Pac could reach the hardest dudes on the street as well as the whitest kids sulking in their bedrooms. 2Pac had an emotional magnetism that few could ignore. It’s too bad I can’t say the same thing about a single musician on the airwaves today.

Next month will mark the 11th anniversary of 2Pac’s death. Hard to believe he was only 25 when he died. I actually remember that I was watching Ren and Stimpy on MTV when Kurt Loder came on screen with the breaking news, weird. I’ll be 25 in a few weeks…kinda scary.

Anyways, enough BS, here are some of my favorite 2Pac songs/videos:

“I Get Around”

“Do For Love”

“Holler If You Hear Me”

As promised last week, here are a few more Tupac and Biggie songs. I definitely think “Old School” incorporates the essence of this weekly post, and I just like “Juicy.

Anyway, enjoy the vids.

Tupac – Old School

Notorious B.I.G. – Juicy

It seems to me that the Olympics have lost a bit of luster. The last time I remember being really excited for the Games was 1996 in Atlanta, perhaps because it was the first time I could actually follow the Olympics in an American city (I was a year old when the ’84 Games were in L.A.) But I think it had more to do with the fact that there were actually notable marquee athletes to root for. The ’96 Games had Michael Johnson and his awesome gold shoes, Carl Lewis, Kerri Strug and many others. Nowadays, I would be pressed to name more than one (Michael Phelps) athlete to watch for. I also think that 12 years ago, people were naively ignorant of doping. In the realm of modern day athletics, anytime a competitor breaks a record, people can’t help but wonder.

The only reason the 2008 Games are getting the attention they are is due to their setting. Talking heads are babbling on about China’s worthiness as a host country due to highly publicized (and sometimes exacerbated) human rights offenses. Is that really all there is to talk about?

Regardless, I just saw something that got me excited again. Nike is notorious for its cutting edge advertising and proved yet again why they stand alone atop the mountain of apparel companies. Nike’s new Olympic ad literally gave me chills and does so each time I watch it. It reminded me of why we should get excited about the Olympics: the Games are an opportunity to see the finest athletes compete on a global stage, for the world to momentarily put aside its issues and focus instead on individual courage. Of course its an ideal and a naive one at that, but it sounds pretty nice doesn’t it? For two weeks it almost works.

Check out the ad. It features The Killers’ “All These Things That I’ve Done,” which works really well, particularly with choir accompaniment:

I was really looking forward to this weekend. With a trip home to the cozy confines of Charlottesville, VA on the docket, I was anticipating a few days full of nothing. I planned on catching up on sleep, eating some good food and basically just basking in the glorious laziness that generally accompanies life on the home front. As it turns out, the comfort gods had other plans.

It started with a delayed flight. Fine, it’s not like I’ve ever flown out of LaGuardia on time anyways. So what’s an hour delay? Or two. Or three. Or four. A flight that should have had me home by 10PM, careened down the runway in Cville at close to 2AM. Good times.

Home at last, all I wanted to do was to pass out and forget about the trip. Again the powers that be scoffed at my arrogance. I awoke fully nauseated at 5AM and spent the rest of the night in the john. As it turns out, the meal I put down at LaGuardia’s finest Asian establishment “Simply Asian,” had no intention of staying down. One might wonder…why on earth would I eat Asian food at an airport? Hindsight is 20/20 my friends. When the other options are McDonald’s and a crusty-ass burrito joint, chicken and broccoli begins to look like ambrosia.

Food poisoning sucks, especially when my duty for the following day was to stand in line at the DMV to renew my driver’s license. Miserable. I guess the lesson to be learned is never eat anything remotely complicated at an airport, specially anything called “Simply Asian.” More like “Simply Fucked.” I rarely use this space to indulge in my own personal rants, but I had to bitch to someone. Sorry.

Two weeks ago, I spent an entire 2hr train ride listening to Biggie and Tupac. An overall great experience because I was reminded of why I fell in love with rap. So I decided it was only fitting to share my romance with you. The following songs need no introduction (last two do not have vids).

Tupac Shakur – If My Homie Calls

The Notorious B.I.G – Sky’s the Limit

Tupac Shakur – Bury me a G

The Notorious B.I.G – Going Back to Cali

NYC Melting Pot

August 2, 2008

I guess there’s no hiding where this blog is based out of: modern day Rome, mecca of Capitalism, New York f*cking City. People all over the world flock to NYC, and can be seen while casually walking down the street. That’s why I love this place. No other city, to my knowledge, has such a mish-mash of culture. Obviously, there are pro’s and con’s about such a situation. Between the people, arguments arise faster, prejudices are worn on sleeves, and self-segregation is prevalent. However, interracial relationships, at least to me, is at a high point. Everyday I see whites, blacks, browns, asians all sharing each others company. Maybe there is progress?

Anyways, on a lighter note, being the melting pot that it is, NYC definitely has some of the best food on the East Coast. And what better way to learn about cultures than through food? These segregated communities provide authentic tastes from their respective regions but without the hassle of travel. As of now, my favorite areas are the asian communities. I can get genuine Japanese yakitori and ramen or Malaysian roti canai and curried vegetables or Vietnamese pho and banh mi (see Banh Mi post).

I do need to branch out and will make an extra effort to. It would be a shame to leave modern day Rome unexplored.