Saturday, December 31, 2005

final score / final game / finally - Raiders 21 Giants 30

No Rain, No Wind, No Win. The Raiderettes didn’t do a halftime jig with wet hair slinging in the night air, and the Raiders went down to a NY Giants team that I feel was only slightly better than us this night. Tiki Barber broke off a long touchdown run and so did Plexico Burress, but other than that we played a tough game against them as we have most of our games this year. Derrick Burgess made his season leading/Team Record Setting 16th sack of the season, but the defense giving up those two big plays early were the goats of this game.

With us not having a running game available, Kerry Collins had what may have been his best passing game tonight. He withstood the defensive pressure of the Giants and threw three touchdown strikes to keep us in the game. I must admit that I’ve been hard on Kerry all season long. Tonight it was evident our offensive line just isn’t that good. They held off the Giants pass rush after making some adjustments but still they couldn’t push the Giants Defensive line enough to run one yard in four tries for a touchdown.

Kerry Collins can be a decent quarterback when given the time to pass and not allowing himself to be rattled by the defense early. Tonight Kerry proved he still has the toughness to stay in the pocket and throw accurate passes given the time to do so. But I feel we need a quarterback who’s a bit more mobile and decisive on his reads. One pass to Moss for a touchdown was so accurate that Moss appeared to be jogging as the ball attached to his fingertips and he continued into the end zone.

Doug Gabriel (one touchdown) and Randy Moss (two touchdowns) both had big games tonight. Jerry Porter caught some key first down passes and made a spectacular catch and run for a first down. Our special teams were awful tonight. It was the first time I’ve seen them look this bad all year. They gave up big returns, one that was more hurtful because Norv Turner had decided on the play before to punt rather than go for it on fourth and one. Granted we were backed up on our own thirty-yard line, but what the hell, we’re 4-11 with nothing to lose. The punt was returned all they way to the Giants three-yard line and it was a matter of seconds before the Giants would score with a run up the middle.

We still had a chance after Moss’s final score made it 31-21 with roughly two minutes to play. But with the ball at their one-yard line we couldn’t punch it in for a score and turned it over on downs. A better coach would’ve come up with a better play than 40-blast (Zack Crockett up the middle) three times and one quarterback sneak. But that’s Norv Turner and that’s why we’re 4-12.

Holiday Spiritual Sharing was in the stands and all fans were joyful regardless of the inevitable loss. Much laughter and hope for next season. Talk of buying tickets for our same seats and discussions of prices for next season were heard throughout. I purchased a classic 2005 New Year’s Eve Beer Mug with battery operated flashing lights of blue/green and red. Dammit if Al Davis didn’t get me for $15 for the mug. I thought it was $7.50 but couldn’t refuse once I had it in my hand. A memento for the season that was 2005.

I did see my good friends Frank and Gia while tailgating. Shared a New Years beer with Frank then headed into the Coliseum as they both wished me a Happy and Safe Holiday. It was such a coincidence when my sister, their friend, Dawn called me early in the game to see if I’d attended and wish me a Happy New Year. She also wanted to remind me of her G-Men being playoff bound. When she asked about Frank and Gia I mentioned I’d run into them while tailgating and they’d wished her a Blessed New Year. All was good.

Tailgating consisted of Ribs from Emil Villa Restaurant in Hayward. Ate all but three ribs out of the rack and with the sweet barbecue beans I was feeling just right for the game. Rain and mud delayed traffic on highway 80 near Fairfield but it didn’t seem to keep fans from those areas away. The stadium probably had less than 40,000 spectators, but as usual it sounded near capacity. Other than a church service I’d attended one New Years with a full choir and orchestra, this had to be one of my favorite New Years experiences. Where else would I, a Raider Fan, rather be on the last day of the year?

I got a bit choked up as I left the coliseum tonight. I took that last look at the field of green with the Raiders Shield in the middle and silver letters painted Oakland and Raiders on black End Zones. The Goal Posts, their familiar canary yellow glistening in the night-lights, red flags barely fluttering in the breeze atop, seemed to wink at me. The Coliseum ushers wishing all a Happy New Year and See You Next Season. A few fire works were seen from the parking lot as a final farewell. Honest, it wasn’t gun fire. And somehow I didn’t feel so bad about the losing season. I felt more a part of a family than a victim of a long war. I felt accepted as a member of a family who were leaving for their adult homes for the year but would return to this, their childhood playground, next season to share those days of yesterday and make new tomorrows with their extended family. The Raider Nation Family.
Win, Lose or Tie - Raider til I Die

Raiders vs Giants - National Weather Advisory Warning!

Well I've made it to this, the final game of the dreadful 2005 season. And what do I get as a treat for all my suffering, A basically meaningless game to be played in what looks like a deluge of rain, wind and drunken New Years Eve revellers. Whoever thought of scheduling a Raiders game on New Years eve should be arrested for insighting a riot. The powers that be know how passionate us Raiders Fans get, and they know how we do it at our Tailgate Parties. My guess is that they want to get some good shots of us bringing in the New Year smashed so that they can broadcast it over the networks as a warning of how not to spend your New Years Eve. Yes, the conspiracy lives and I urge all Raiders Fans going out to the game tonight to be responsible and safe. Let's not give them any fuel to add to the fire they're always roasting us over.

As for the game, Bring on the playoff-bound New York Giants, bring on the record setting Rainstorms that the National Weather Advisory has warned will continue through the weekend, we've survived worse. And if we go down tonight I can truly say while weathering the ugly conditions that I, A Raiders Faithful, went down with the ship that was the Oakland Raiders 2005. But you can believe I'll be making sure that Kerry and Norv don't escape the blame and are tightly strapped to the mast as the ship goes under. So it's off to the game I go.

Oh, there will be one treat to look forward to tonight, Wet Raiderettes. Yes, if you're a red-blooded American born male, relationship committed or not, you don't wanna miss the Raiderettes performing in the rain. Trust me, I was at the rain-soaked game in 2002 when we played Kansas City in the final game. Of course the circumstances were different, we clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs that game I think.

But other than Zack Crockett's two touchdowns and our defense shutting out KC, visions of the Raiderettes swinging their long wet hair seductively while performing shaking dance routines remain clear as crystal in my memory. And the great part was that the Coliseum camera crew didn't miss a beat. They made sure we got the full angles and looks that make the Raiderettes the finest babes in pro sports. I believe they even showed it in slow-mo a few times to give that SpiceChannel effect. You even get the change of outfits after the half-time. How does tight black bodysuits sound with a silver sash about the waste? Sounds better than the Autumn wind doesn't it? Either way, you'll leave the Coliseum with a smile and a dream.

Need Proof? Click here for the Raiderettes Rainsoaked Picture Gallery....You Dog.


Happy New Years Raider Nation!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

"Moving and Memorable" -Newsweek

In my recent viewing of classic movies leased from the public library, I came across one I’d heard about as a kid but somehow had never seen. The movie, “Nothing But A Man,” starring Ivan Dixon and Abbey Lincoln, is as Newsweek stated, “Moving and memorable.”

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

We all knew this droopy-eyed character actor who passed away at age 57.

Vincent Schiavelli, personally one of my favorite character actors, died from lung cancer. I didn't create this blog to list obituaries of famous and infamous persons, but recent deaths of people who've made an impression on me I've felt obligated to post something about.

Mr. Schiavelli first impressed me in the movie "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" as one of those loveable mentally challenged patients who Jack Nicholson rejuvenated with life. When Mr. Schiavelli resurfaced in the movie "Ghost" he again impressed me with his scary yet human character who taught Patrick Swayze the art of moving objects as a Ghost.

I'm sure professional actors will hail his acting skills, but what I remember him for is that uniquely real look and presence he brought to his characters onscreen. Think of the mental patients you remember from "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest." You may remember Cheswick and possibly one other, but nobody else comes to mind other than Jack and Mr. Schiavelli's character.

There've been many actors who by their sheer unique look, Marty Feldman, Rowan "Mr. Bean" Atkinson, Jimmy Durante, have made it as leads in Hollywood. The thing those actors had going for them was comedy. It is common for us movie viewers to laugh at odd or comical looking characters on screen and I believe strange looking actors tend to use comedy as a way of making it in Hollywood. But Mr. Schiavelli for whatever reason didn't take that route in his acting career and maybe that's why his name isn't well known. He was never a lead actor in a Movie. Whatever the reason he chose not to persue comedy as his platform, his performance in those parts he played will be remembered by all moviegoers as unforgettable. Who can forget that face and those droopy eyes that could scare one moment then beg compassion from an audience the next?

I believe he did show his comedy acting abilities in some parts (He was actually in the movie "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," wow) but the parts he'll be remembered for are those where he wasn't the brunt of a joke or the oddity at the party. He will be remembered as that character who made you look in amazement at how Hollywood-looks do not always determine the magic of an actor.

Blessings go out to the family of Vincent Schiavelli. link to obituary

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Just couldn't stand to watch the game today

I didn't boycott watching the Raiders game today, I just wasn't feeling it and neither was the team. So I just didn't watch it. The day being Christmas Eve I didn't want Kerry or Norv to ruin my Holiday Spirit. True sports fans understand. On a day when your team loses its as if a close friend has died. You really don't have much good to say to folks, you have a hard time smiling about anything, Kids sense your smouldering presence and avoid you, your woman will try to cheer you up but then decides to go shopping. Even with nothing at stake for your team you still go through this funk for the day. I've learned how to get myself out of the funk and make the rest of the day decent, but the anger of losing is always there in the back of my mind.

That constant nagging of a loss usually effects me in a physical way with my body experiencing subtle twitches, my legs kicking at air and deep groans ending with the word Shit. I'll admit, I act like a spoiled baby who didn't get what he wanted for Christmas. But I see it as just my passion for my team overflowing negatively when they come up short.

So I'm typing this on Christmas Eve and I have nothing but Seasons Greetings and good thoughts flowing through my person. I'm glad that I chose not to watch the humiliating loss against the Broncos as they clinched our division. I did wince once when hearing the final score of the game announced on the radio today, but I experienced no lasting twitching or uncontrolable vocal sounds. Instead of having a humbug day I enjoyed a beautiful sunny California day outdoors and it was wonderful.

So I'll be ready to attend the final game of the season next week at the Coliseum against the NY Giants. Maybe the Raiders will give me my Christmas Gift win next week. Or maybe I'll just have to except the fact that there really is no Santa Claus. Just an Ugly Grinch that likes stealing Christmas from passionate fans such as myself and transforming us into Scrooges for a day if we let him.

You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Prayer vigil today at Dungy church

The Northside New Era Missionary Baptist Church is hosting a prayer vigil for the Tony Dungy family this afternoon from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. inside the church at 517 W. 30th Street in Indianapolis.

The Rev. Clarence C. Moore will show a PowerPoint presentation of James Dungy, Tony Dungy's 18-year-old son who was found dead early Thursday morning in what investigators have described as an apparent suicide.

Our Prayers go out to the Dungy Family.

New Bugatti is fastest road car ever built

At the moment, the Bugatti Veyron appears to have it all:

* A W-16 engine that can produce 1,001 horsepower
* A top speed of 250+ mph (400+ kph)
* A zero-to-60 time of three seconds
* A zero-to-180 time of 14 seconds
* A price tag somewhere in the $1 million range.

Here's a paragraph from a great article by Matt Stone associated press, describing his experience of test driving a Bugatti:

As I pilot the 16.4 through one of Sicily’s mile-long tunnels, and the speedo swings past 280 kilometers per hour (about 174 mph), I now know what it feels like to be a hollow-point slug traveling down the barrel of a long-nose .44 Magnum. Potent forces lunge me forward, the tunnel’s lights blur into streaks, and the W16’s subwoofered rumble is magnified by the rock walls. The tiny white dot way up ahead represents the end of the barrel and bursting out into the daylight is as bright as any weapon’s muzzle flash.

Wanna know more about the Bugatti? Click Here

Remember Last Season's Game in Denver. It could Happen

Sure, it could happen. The Raiders could go into Mile High/Invesco Field and pull off an upset over the playoff bound Broncos, again. It was only a year ago that the Raiders stunned the Broncos in a Sunday Night ESPN game viewed by all. The game I still believe to be their best in three seasons.

Last year the Raiders were coming off a five-game losing streak. This year they're coming into Denver with a four game losing streak. The weather may not be as bad as last year but the Broncos appear to be a better team. I'm sure the Broncos remember the 25 to 24 loss and have vowed not to let such a thing happen again. This game is not a nationally televised game but like last season's, but when the Raiders and Broncos meet nothing extra is really needed to incite the players competition level. We hate the Broncos as much as they hate us. And anytime we play them we're looking to not only win but demoralize them in the process. And if we can spoil their chances of home field in the playoffs or even a bye week then so much the better.

So come on Raiders, let's give this game a true Raider effort an come out with a shocking win against these western division rival donkeys. I don't care if we get ten personal foul penalties, as long as we win and hurt them in the process. Nobody's giving us a chance but us, so let's give ourselves a winning Christmas Gift. We deserve it for making it through a disappointing 2005 season.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Along Elevated Lines, It's Hard to Stand the Silence

Stores on Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights, Queens, along the elevated No.7 subway line.Some welcomed the silence of the transit strike.Others missed the noise.

Published: December 22, 2005
New York Times

For nearly 90 years, life along Roosevelt Avenue has been pre-empted every few minutes by a sustained interruption of train clatter, as the elevated No. 7 train rumbles overhead. The 20-second interjection is loud enough to banish thought itself. It halts conversations and forces newcomers to hold their ears.

But since the trains stopped on Tuesday, the hammer of the gods has suddenly stopped, too. People who live and work along the avenue seemed slightly disoriented yesterday. The decibel level that has defined life there, as well as at other places in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx - is conspicuously absent.

"It's strange, but the silence is more noticeable than the noise," said City Councilman Eric N. Gioia, who represents Woodside, Queens, and grew up under the El. "When you spend your life hearing the screech of steel wheels over your head every two minutes, you almost forget what quiet is."

Ever since 1917, when the elevated subway was built along Roosevelt Avenue, the steel-on-steel scrape and the rumble of a subway train overhead have been constant companions. Some residents liken it to being a roller coaster operator, or being trapped in a revolving door at a heavy-metal concert.

But when transit workers began a citywide strike on Tuesday morning, the quiet that was long ago banished from the area returned.

The ambient noise level of Queens neighborhoods along the line - including Sunnyside, Woodside, Jackson Heights and Corona - returned to that of your average busy New York City thoroughfare. While many residents embraced the relative silence, others seemed bewildered by it, and, after only two days, even began waxing nostalgic for it.

"I actually miss the noise already," said Cristina Fletcher, 33, a Filipino immigrant who for the past five years has lived in a building in Woodside, a half-block from Roosevelt Avenue. "You get used to it. It's part of life here, the sound of the city. It's strange to actually be able to walk down Roosevelt Avenue and talk on your cellphone.

"Living here is like having the subway running through your living room," she said, "and now it's turned off."

Angel Perez, 30, of Brooklyn, a mail carrier who delivers along Roosevelt Avenue, said the day "feels like a funeral procession." He added: "It's a big difference. You learn to block it out normally, but it's always there."

The image of the hulking structure of the elevated tracks has become an emblem of gritty urban living mythologized in pulp novels and film noir.

In Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, Tajara Barnes, 30, has a fourth-floor apartment so close to the elevated J line that she can look passengers in the eye. "The silence is unbearable; it's keeping me up," she said. "I can't even sleep this week because I've become so accustomed to the train noise."

In the South Bronx, though, workers in the many automotive shops along Jerome Avenue relished the lack of noise overhead. "The noise is so annoying, I hope the strike lasts forever," said Jose Martinez, 22, who fixes flat tires. "It's a whole other world without those things going by."

The No. 7 line has sometimes been glorified as the "immigrant express," serving Flushing's vibrant Asian community and the ethnically diverse neighborhoods along the route. But to those who live under it, it is more notable for its noise.

Some residents living on or near Roosevelt Avenue spoke of finally getting a sound sleep. Others confessed to feeling a bit uneasy: Things seemed just a little too quiet.

Mahmud Hossain, 31, a Bengali immigrant who owns the New York Deli and Grocery at Roosevelt Avenue and 76th Street, said life on the avenue had always been about "the big noise." For the past seven years, Mr. Hossain said, he has worked at his counter 12 hours a day, separated from the El outside by a pane of glass. Since he lives in an apartment building on the avenue, he also hears the train all night, he said.

He and his wife have a relationship based upon intermittent conversations. "When we talk to each other, part of every conversation is saying, 'Hold on a second,' " he said.

"It's funny to say," he added, "but the silence is driving me crazy."

Linda Ramos, 27, a waitress in a nearby restaurant, feels otherwise. "One thing we don't get in this neighborhood is peace and quiet," she said.

Francisco Garcia, 30, a street vendor who pushes a cart along the avenue, selling tamales and the soupy sweet rice pudding known in Spanish as arroz con leche, was equally pleased. "The silence is good," he said. "That noise can drive you nuts."

But Mr. Hossain said, "I feel bad about the quiet because at least when I hear the noise, it means the city is working and running."

Comment From Raiderlegend: And I thought the fire truck sirens here in San Francisco were noisy. At least I don't look the firemen in the eyes when they pass my window, but then again, I'm on the fifth floor and the street is not elevated. Such is Life in a City.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Paths of Glory

I watched an excellent old movie entitled "Paths of Glory", from world-class director/writer Stanley Kubrick. In the movie, Kirk Douglas plays French WWI Colonel Dax who is given a direct order from his front lines General to take the German Ant Hill at any cost. A blatant suicide mission, the attack is doomed to failure.

To cover-up their fatal blunder, the Generals order the arrest of three innocent soldiers, one from each of Colonel Dax three company's, charging them with cowardice in the face of the enemy and mutiny. Dax, a lawyer in civilian life, rises to the men's defense but soon realizes that unless he can prove that the Generals were to blame, nothing less than a miracle will save his clients from the firing squad.

If you like a good black&white war movie which is not your typical blow'em up gun'em down war movie, then I'd recommend you check this one out. The politics of war and the lowly worth put on a soldier's life in times of war are all exposed in this great film. I found myself rewinding to get a better look at the up close shots of soldiers faces. Somehow, the director captured a look in the soldier's faces, though really actors, that reflected the coldness and ugliness of living in a front line trench during WWI.

Though many parts were what I'd consider great scenes, two really stick out in my mind. One scene reminds me of that scene in Shawshank Redemption when the prisoners are awestruck by the sound of a woman's voice singing the italian opera Figaro. For that moment in Shawshank Redemption and in the scene in this movie these hardened men are reminded of what it is to be human with family and loved ones.

The other scene is more of a quote than the scene itself. When the General, in trying to convince Colonel Dax to lead the suicide mission, shouts that patriotism is old fashion but patriots are honest, Colonel Dax says "not everyone always thought so. Samuel Johnson said something else." When the General forces Colonel Dax to tell him who Samuel Johnson was and what it was he said the Colonel replies with this famous quote from English writer Samuel Johnson:

Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel

The Motion Picture Guide review gave the movie five stars with the statement: "One of the greatest anti-war films ever made."

Newsweek review stated: Paths of Glory is a blistering indictment of military politics and "an unforgettable movie experience."

The politics and cover-ups could be compared to the situation the U.S. finds itself in over in Iraq today. Watch the movie and judge for yourself.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Norv and Kerry can both kiss my A$$

It was a cool, wet and breezy day out at the Oakland Coliseum. No worry, we were playing the lowly Cleveland Browns. Forget that Norv Turner chose to start Kerry over Tuiasosopo, Kerry can find a way to beat the Browns. Wrong, dead wrong.

Our defense did enough to beat the Browns, but it takes an offense to put points on the board and the Raiders offense couldn't muster more than seven points. It was so obvious that the problem on offense was Kerry Collin's inability to read defenses that I wonder why Norv left him in the game. The only logical answer is that Norv has something to gain by playing Kerry. Maybe its money, maybe its someone to blame for the losses, but Norv is clearly stuck on Kerry. He doesn't give a damn about the future of the Raiders or about giving Tuiasosopo another chance.

Some believe Norv went with Kerry to protect his job. Scary to think that a coach would rather stick with a quarterback that has only been consistant in being the goat for losing games than give a five year backup a legitimate chance to play. Giving Tui one start in a game where you didn't gameplan for his style of play (last week against NY Jets) nor protect him from the expected blitzes all day is suspect to say the least. With our running game working today against the Browns, it would have been a perfect scenario for Tui to play, even if it meant coming off the bench to relieve Kerry. I know the fans would have praised Norv for trying to win the game as opposed to protect his job.

Being at the game you got to see just how out-of-synch Kerry Collins is with the offense. Granted, he was getting blitzed early, but the offensive line stepped it up later to give him the time. Kerry, other than the 28 yard touchdown to Randy Moss, wasn't making the reads to see the open receiver. Again many of his throws were either too low or too high. His low pass to TE Courtney Anderson may have attributed to Courtney injuring himself while trying to reach low to catch the ball. I believe Courtney Anderson is 6ft 8in or so. All season us fans have been wondering how is it that our quarterback fails to see an open receiver as tall as Courtney? And then when he does see him how is it that he either under throws him or over throws him? It's mindboggling that our coach hasn't made adjustments at the quarterback position for more than just one game.

SeaBass missed a 51 yard field goal attempt and had another long attempt blocked. But I wouldn't attribute the loss to SeaBass. The conditions were poor. I actually question why Norv didn't opt to go for it instead of trying the long attempt that was blocked? That missed field goal gave Cleveland good field position for their final drive.

So with a Leader that can't lead us to victory over a lesser opponent, the Raiders lose in the final seconds on a field goal to the Cleveland Browns 9 to 7. The Raiders Faithful braved the wet and windy elements to support their underachieving team. If the saying "struggle brings unity" bears any truth, then seeing the Raider fans united in their rejection of Norv and Kerry will hopefully uplift our struggle for replacement at head coach and quarterback come next season.

Bring us your tired and hungry longing to be free. Bring us a Coach and Quarterback who'll deliver victory.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Darrell Russell, A Raider, dead at age 29.

Anyone who ever saw him play knew he had the potential to be great and dominate on defense. On the field he was a monster defensive lineman with two pro bowl appearances to his credit. Unfortunately, off the field problems derailed such a promising young career.

I think former Raiders offensive lineman said it best saying about Darrell that, ''He was a big kid like me that had a big heart. He couldn't say no to anybody. That's what had a big deal [to do] with his demise. ... He couldn't let his past go. He always wanted to try to take care and do for other people. It ended up bringing him down.''

I'm sure that come this Sunday the Raiders Organization will have a moment of silence before the game against the Cleveland Browns in memory of Darrell Russell. I'll be there, my head bowed with hat in hand, thinking about what should have been. He'll always be remembered as a Raider.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Childhood Memories of Richard Pryor

Richard Pryor
1940 - 2005

An early Monday morning in mid-December 2005. I listen while the radio sports announcer talks about this past weekend’s sports highlights. While recanting the top sports news stories he pays homage to a fallen great comedian of my era who just so happened to pass away over the weekend. I, upon hearing the name Richard Pryor, bolt upright in bed crying out as if someone had just thrown cold water on my body. The radio commentator mentioned the sad news almost as an afterthought and moved along to other events of the weekend related more to sports than my childhood memories. But for me at that moment sports had become a past time. For I was bombarded with many thoughts of Richard Pryor and the laughing times I’ve had being entertained by him.

Of course the classic comedy Car Wash crossed my minds eye immediately. Funny that I just watched the 1970’s movie only a month ago for the first time in over twenty five years. The music with the Pointer Sisters, the fashions of Afros and the comedy of Richard Pryor reminded me of the beauty us Black people have stamped on American culture. To see or hear Richard Pryor is to become Black whether your skin color is white yellow black or brown. Even a Native from Africa becomes Black upon being entertained by Richard Pryor’s thought provoking comedy. And when I say Black I mean African American Black. For it is our Black experience here in America that so molded the comedy and person of Richard Pryor.

Just four months back or so I attended the special engagement viewing of “Young Frankenstein,” a classic horror-comedy from the early 80’s. The star of the movie “Gene Wilder” was on hand to meet fans and autograph his new book released that month. While waiting in line to meet Mr. Wilder it dawned on me that my memories of him were most likely very different from the majority of the other folks waiting to meet him. When you’re Black and find yourself alone amongst non-black persons such thoughts can sometimes surface. While looking up and down the waiting line and discussing Mr. Wilder’s new book with other patrons , (the book was terrible per discussions), I could only think of his movie sidekick Richard Pryor in such classics as “Silver Streak” and “Stir Crazy.” I still sometimes find myself singing The Birmingham Jail lullaby that Norberg sang so eloquently in Stir Crazy. Other patrons mentioned their reasons for wanting to meet Mr. Wilder were tied to memories of his late wife Gilda Radner, who it was said he treated very poorly during their marriage. I never did meet Mr. Wilder that day. The line was moving slow and it dawned on me I wasn’t so much a fan of his as a fan of the movie era he was a part of. I got close enough to make eye contact with him, his aged blue eyes showing signs of a pained but thankful life. I gave a nod to him before strolling out of the theater with a satisfied happiness in knowing I’d just re-lived a few wonderful memories. Richard Pryor was first and foremost as the memories that flashed across my mental screen that day.

As I finish with thoughts of Gene Wilder’s book engagement another Richard Pryor memory comes to mind. It was to be my introduction to the censored comedian’s material and a poor ten year old boy determination to stop at nothing to obtain it.

The year was 1972 when the release of another classic movie “Lady Sings the Blues” came out. The movie was an unofficial biography of the life of Billy Holiday and her rise and fall from stardom. Richard Pryor stole the show in his part as a piano playing friend and fellow heroin addict. There was no HBO or video at that time so if you missed the movie in the theater you either depended on family and friends to tell you about it scene by scene, or you purchased the soundtrack on album or 8-track and hoped to hear a few lines between music tracks. Someone in our house had purchased the 8-track soundtrack which I’d listened to many times, getting glimpses of the unexplained taboo comedy that was in the movie. I, being so curious to learn more about sex and drugs as well as the comedy of Richard Pryor, decided to procure for myself and other neighborhood youngsters a copy of a Richard Pryor soundtrack by hook or crook. It would turn out to be closer to crook than hook. The tape man Paul, a hustling Jewish guy who’d come to our black neighborhood on weekends with his huge chevy trunk loaded with boxes of 8-track tapes and other products of Afro-American interest, would be my conduit to Richard Pryor and the taboos that came with his comedy.

As I type this I realize I haven’t thought of Paul since those long gone days. I don’t even know how I remember his name but there he is in my memory along with Richard Pryor, Diana Ross and Big Ben from the City. For those who don’t remember Big Ben (played by scratchy voiced Scatman Crothers)in the movie “Lady Sings the Blues” he was a good paying customer at Miss Lorraine’s Whorehouse where Billy Holiday worked and Richard Pryor played piano. Here are the lines that etched Big Ben so permanently into my pre-adolescent mind:

Young and Tender
A Chocolate Treat
Gonna give me some of that fine Meat
You see I’m Big Ben from the City
And I’m gonna squeeze your little Titty

Billy Holiday then decides to not service Big Ben and gathers her things up out of the room to leave. When Big Ben asks her what she thinks she’s doing Billy Holiday, played by Diana Ross, smoothly says “Nothing personal Mr. Ben, but I just quit the business.” Big Ben gets upset and begins yelling at her and yelling for Lorraine. When the Madam Lorraine see’s Billy Holiday leaving she tries to stop her but Richard Pryor comes to her aid and the two of them escape the whorehouse with Big Ben and Madam Lorraine vowing that she’d never work in this town again as sure as his name is Big Ben, ain’t that right Big Ben, “That’s Right.”

I should inform you that our house was like the Neighborhood Walmart in the hood at that time. I grew up with what seemed like hundreds of cousins with thousands of friends, so a weekend at our house brought people with money to spend and products from less than ethical distributors available for purchase, no drugs mind you. You name it, Rabbit Coats, Leathers, Dysheekies, Alpaca Sweaters, Afro Care Combs&Products, Mini-Skirts, why even my purple apple jack hat(forerunner to Kango) was purchased through one of the most colorful ghetto distributors of the day who patronized our communal home.

And so it was that I’d somehow come up with a dollar and some words of promise to Paul that I’d encourage my mom about buying some other products from him if he sold me the Richard Pryor 8-track labeled “for adult listening pleasure.” I’d spied the Richard Pryor 8-track tape in Paul’s trunk on his last two visits and knew exactly where to find it and which box it was in. The sneaky smile and determination that I must of shown when Paul opened that old dusty trunk in search of the 8-track tape should have been caught on tape. It would be my first planned hustle that would work to perfection. Now that I think about it, the dollar had come partly from my mom and partly from neighborhood kids I’d promised to play it for. When I pointed out to Paul the box with the tape tucked snuggly between Billy Preston and Parliament tapes he slowly reached down and pulled and wiggled until he held the Richard Pryor cartridge in his hand. Before handing it to me Paul had the strangest look, today I know the look to be that of a man about to perform a shameful act and contemplating the consequences if any. Paul hesitated as he eyed the tape title, patted the tape a few times against his free hand then handed it to me with instructions not to tell my mother I got it from him or else we don’t do business anymore. I with dollar in hand, mouth agape and eyes staring wide in anticipation of receiving the tape, could only nod in agreement as Paul passes down the rectangle cartridge of pleasure, plastic wrapped as proof of untainted goods. I hardly noticed Paul easing the dollar out of my other hand as I looked at the 8-track tape in awe. Maybe it was then that Paul reminded me not to tell my mother, but either way I’d made my first deal and now was running off to my brother’s bedroom to play the 8-track in his portable 8-track player, the one that you had to put a matchbook under the cartridge to prevent it from dragging.

Later that afternoon with the bedroom door closed, a roomful of adolescent and pre-adolescent boys listened and rolled in hushed laughter as Richard Pryor, uninterrupted by music, opened our young world to the wisdom of what it means to be Black and the things that boys should know about sex, drugs and being cool. I’d become Paul’s little retailer with my cliché of friends eager for their own copies of the latest Richard Pryor tape. I charged two dollars and Paul allowed me a pick of any 8-track tape I wanted along with each purchase. I made out with a one dollar profit and what would turn out to be a tape collection of Richard Pryor and the Soulful sounds of R&B that was the early 70’s. I sometimes sold the musical 8-track tapes still plastic wrapped to cousins or friends at the house on the weekends. My profit was tied to the two for one deal Paul agreed to give me. It was then that I learned the words capitalism and hustle carried the same meaning. And it all started with wanting to hear Richard Pryor tell jokes and talk about being Black like me.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Jets Attack Tuiasosopo

Tui's coming out party was crashed by the New York Jets defense resulting in another Raiders loss. Is the Raiders offensive line that bad? Jets DE Johnnie Abrams was all up in our backfield causing havoc on Tui. I'm sure Kerry Collins was in a "see I told you so" mode while watching from the sidelines. Between the bad play of the offensive line and the penalties the Raiders didn't have a chance today.

I hate to have to admit that we are living up to the negatives that analysts and sports writers preach about the Raiders. We are undisciplined and beat ourselves with penalties and mistakes.

Tui's performance was probably no worse than any inexperienced quarterback behind a weak O-line. Just look at the 49ers earlier in the season. Three quarterbacks later and they're just starting to put drives together.

Now the blame game for the Raiders poor play will probably be directed toward head coach Norv Turner. I wouldn't have minded swapping coaches today. Herm Edwards had his team prepared to compete today. I ask myself if today's game plan was one that gave better protection and opportunities for an inexperienced quarterback? I don't think so. Shorter routes and quick passes to the tight end may have helped, but I must admit that I couldn't watch after a while, so I'm not one to analyze the game today.

From what I saw, and I hope I'm wrong on this, it appeared that the team kind of gave up on winning the game. They began playing for the "Reggie Bush Sweeepstakes" and may qualify by season's end. That may not be such a bad thing. I wonder if maybe Al saw all the Reggie Bush highlights the sports networks ran this weekend after he won the Heisman? They say Reggie is maybe the best back ever to play college football. One analyst said he's a combination of Gale Sayers, Walter Payton, Earl Campbell and O.J. Simpson as a running back. If that turns out to be proven true, look out NFL. Maybe Al knows what's best for the Raiders in trying for the Reggie Bush Sweepstakes, we'll see.

I love my Raiders, but it's times like these that test my allegiance not to the team but to the organization. Are we a good team lacking leadership and smart organizational choices or are our players just not worth their price on paper? We'll see when and if Tui is given another chance, this time on home turf against the lowly Cleveland Browns.

Win Lose or Tie!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Introducing No. 8 - QB Marques Tuiasosopo

Well we asked for it, now we got it. Number 8 for the 4-8 Oakland Raiders, Marques Tuiasosopo will be starting this Sunday against the 2-10 New York Jets. It's only Tui's second start as a Raider but that shouldn't matter, anyone wearing a Raiders Jersey looks better behind center than Mr. Collins these days. And who better to play against than a team with less wins and hope than yourself?

Because of the few stats accrued while holding a clipboard on the sideline for the Raiders, I give you this link to click on for Tui's Washington Huskies College Career Stats.

So let's give a Raider Nation welome to Tui and hope that Norv puts in a game plan that fits his abilities and gives the team a chance to win this one. For us who've been calling for Tui to be given a chance, it'll be like watching your little brother finally get his chance in a pop warner game. Somehow that just doesn't sound too reassuring. But hey, at least he's no longer the waterboy or clip boy. Go Tui!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

High School Championship Football at the Coliseum

Saturday night High School Football at the Oakland Coliseum. The autumn wind was Raiding the stadium as I sat watching High School Powerhouse DeLasalle, or as one San Leandro fan heckled, "DSL" battle San Leandro High for the EastBay 4A Championship. DeLasalle, as usual, was expected to win but not without San Leandro giving them a fight. The offensive action wasnt much as the defenses put on a show. Hard hitting and a few turnovers made for a dramatic game. DeLasalle committed a number of penalties which is uncharacteristic of them.

In warmups you could see the discipline and preparedness of DeLasalle as they mechanically performed all sorts of drills. On the other end San Leandero came out looking relaxed and nonchalant, almost to a fault. But once the game got going it appeared the teams were evenly matched on defense. DeLasalle's discipline is what I believe won them the game. They were poised and patient while waiting for their offense to put some points on the board, any points. Somewhere in the first half they managed seven points. Their offense moved the ball but couldn't get it in the endzone whereas San Leandro's offense moved the ball in spurts.

San leandro punted frequently and did a decent job on punt return coverage. Delasalle's special teams missed a field goal attempt in the third quarter. With time winding down in the third quarter San Leandro intercepted a pass and returned it down to around the ten yard line. This was the highlight play of the game for them. They switched endzones and I was able to get a close up of the DeLasalle defense attempting a goal line stand. Four downs later DeLasalle had the ball on the three yard line and San Leandro still had zero points, a successful defensive stand for DeLasalle. The San leandro coach may have blown that one by not having a creative play to run in that situation. But then again, execution is the key and the San Leandro team just couldn't execute against the DeLasalle defense.

The scrambling San Leandro quarterback started taking chances and looking rattled. He'd thrown two interceptions and appeared out of synch with his wide receivers. Granted they dropped quite a few balls during the game which may have made the difference. One dropped ball by a San Leandro receiver was a sure touchdown as the pass hit in right in the hands as he ran a perfect route between the DB and Safety. Had he caught the ball there was clear sailing to the endzone. On that play it looked as if Delasalle's defense had conceded the touchdown without trying to stop what was obviously to be a touchdown. But the San Leandro offense just couldn't make a play.

Hats off to DeLasalle for winning their umpteenth Championship. They tacked on another touchdown with less than a minute left in the game after their interception of a San Leandro pass killed any chance of overtime. I was impressed with the San Leandro team for not giving up, especially on defense. With an offense that looked like it had speed but couldn't overcome a good defense, San Leandro played a great game. The damage could have and should have been a lot worse but for their defense stopping the powerful DeLasalle offense that had scored sixty points in their last game. From what I saw in the stats, San Leandro's offense had scored sixty in it's last game but gave up forty eight in winning.

So hats off to both teams for giving me memories of High School sports and a reason to visit the Oakland Coliseum in my Raiders gear.

Final Score
DeLasalle 14
San Leandro 0