October 25th, 2005

flavored with age

End of an era?

By the end of her very long life, Rosa Parks was in poor health, and, like so many famous people good and bad, had largely become subject to the wiles of her handlers, lawyers, and family members who may or may not had her best interests in mind.

The things she fought for were the most fundamental and basic imaginable: she wanted to be able to go where she wanted and do as she pleased without threat of harm or imprisonment for no other reason than the color of her skin. Things are inarguably better for her race, and many other races, thanks largely to her courageous act, but recent events dispel any notion that "separate but equal" is a thing of the past. There are those, and as is always the case they get their ideas from the people at the top, who say racism is no longer a problem in America except for those who have a vested interest in pretending it is. But ask the people of New Orleans what they think; ask the respondents to a recent poll of African-Americans that placed President Bush's approval ratings at just over 2%. While the Jim Crow laws are history, blacks today are learning without the aid of a teacher the difference between de jure and de facto.

As long ago as 1991, Del tha Funkee Homosapien was raising an ironic eyebrow to the Parks legacy, wondering in "The Wacky World of Rapid Transit" why one gutsy woman's actions had, ultimately, responded in young black males choosing to be separate: "Niggas wanna ride the back/what kinda shit is that?" as a gangbanger screams at him: "What are you, Rosa Parks, motherfucker? Sit your ass back here!"

But it would be shameful if all we remembered now was what others have done to her birthright. Regardless of the events of her later life, regardless of the racial obsession that still seizes America and makes of King's dream a bad joke, it is impossible to overestimate the impact made on America by her impossibly brave act. At a time when blacks could very easily be jailed or beaten for failing to display the proper deference to a white man, when lynching was widely considered a misdemeanor if that, at a time when the status of women was little better than the status of African-Americans and the status of someone who was both lower still, she made an act of gentle defiance that could have cost her life but ultimately won her freedom.
he's just a stereotype

What I've learned from a week of listening to sports talk radio

- Guys are an endangered minority group in America today, and should be catered to like babies with cholera. The best way to do this is to constantly surround them, like hothouse orchids, with easy access to breasts, sports memorabilia, and too much fried food.

- Speaking of food, here is what a sports talk radio listener apparently thinks of as a multifarious menu: burgers, salads, sandwiches AND appetizers. My head is spinning! I'm drowned in choice!

- Sports is far and away the most important thing in life. Nothing can be attempted -- marriage, childbirth, the cutting of one's hair -- without the time, date and nature of upcoming sporting events can be considered.

- That said, not all sports are equal. The third game of the World Series, for example, is less worthy of discussion than a meaningless mid-season pro football contest, and nothing is more worthy of discussion than golf.

- Golf, by the way, is pronounced "goff", and football is pronounced like something between "fooble" and "fuhbawl".

- For people who will apparently gamble on anything and everything, sports talk radio listeners do not seem to have a very clear ideation of how oddsmaking works.

- Sports fans do not want to hear anything about, or from, black people or women. They do, however, appreciate references to mistresses.

- The sports talk radio listener wants to make a lot of money with a minimum of work, preferably by investing in something or franchising something. He is fat and probably a bit angry; he is probably married or in a relationship, but he also needs to know how late the strip clubs are open. He will buy anything if it is pitched to him by a breathy-voiced female who starts her spiel by saying "Heeeeeeey, guys." He knows that the second-worst thing that can happen to a human being is sexual dysfunction, perceived or actual, and that the single worst thing that can happen is baldness.