Saturday, February 27, 2010

After rediscovering this Franz Schubert piece I'm joyfully posting this magical performance of it. The Hurdy Gurdy Man.

"..... watching Quasthoff sing "Der Leiermann" is a really unique experience in the world of recorded music on DVD nowadays, a deeply touching moment of absolute union between music and singer, between composer and performer, like his face shows in all the song, and
like his voice sings"

from Franz Schubert's song cycle "Die Winterreise", op. 89, D. 911

Thomas Quasthoff, baritone
Daniel Barenboim, piano

Filmed live at the Berlin Philharmonie on 22 March 2005


California's Jamal Boykin celebrates after California defeated
Arizona State 62-46, clinching at least a share of the
Pac-10 Championship, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2010, in Berkeley,
Calif. (AP Photo/George Nikitin)

Its been 50 years since the Cal Bears Mens Basketball team won their division. 50 years to the day to be exact. The Bears assured themselves of nothing less than a share of the Pac 10 title today with their 62-46 win over Arizona State. Arizona State, with two remaining games, can be the sharer of the title should Cal stumble in their final game against Pac 10 rival Stanford. Cal Coach Mike Montgomery, who coached the Stanford Cardinal to four Pac 10 Championships, celebrated not only Cal's rise to the title in only his second season there, but also his 63rd birthday.

Congratulations Coach Montgomery and Cal Bears Basketball for reaching that elusive mountaintop.

A Blast From Wrestling Past

I really haven't been a WWE fan of late. But there are two characters that I've always thought could be undercover Raiders fans. Those two are the Undertaker and his eccentric General Manager Paul Bearer. Anyone who carries an urn of defeated opponents ashes around with him is welcome to be a part of the Raider Nation. A toast goes out to Taker and Paul, there will always be a place for you in our Nation.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

TAG! Richard Seymour is It.

Yes, the Oakland Raiders have pinned the exclusive franchise tag on DE Richard Seymour to the price tag of approximately $12,398,000.00. Seymour, a five-time pro bowler in his nine-year career, will renegotiate a contract with the Raiders, and only the Raiders. A multi-year contract is possible.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Black Diamond: Baseball's Negro Leagues

With Major League Baseball little more than a month away, and February being Black History month, I thought it befitting to acknowledge the many Black men of Negro Baseball who "played for the love of the game."

I'd read somewhere that when major league baseball integrated with the Dodgers signing of Jackie Robinson in 1947, they opened the door for America to begin desegregation. The following year, President Harry S. Truman would sign executive order 9981 which states:

"It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin."

Six years later NAACP attorney Thurgood Marshall would win a suprrme court case that ruled segregation in public schools as unconstitutional. From there sprang the Civil Rights Movement
for racial equality in America. The movement continues to fight battles for minority equality in America.

Today I gave a book about the Negro Leagues of Baseball to a traveling friend. Its a book I've read more than once and felt that my friend would truly enjoy. It felt like giving a gift that you wanted to keep for yourself. I parted with the book knowing that my friend would enjoy reading it on his journey back east. Before giving him the book I spent about thirty minutes flipping through its pages and saying goodbye to some of the stories in it. I know I'll come across the book again, but for me, parting with books is like wishing a friend well on a journey, just as this friend of mine was journeying. Its great to send a visiting friend off with a friendly gift.

Well, in leafing through the book's pages I came across a few paragraphs I wanted to retain as a memory of my friend the book. Here below are the book and the lines from it that show in words what the negro baseball players faced every day of their lives; a color barrier that prevented them from gaining national sports recognition as professionals of the game they loved so much, baseball. Though Negro men had proven themselves heroic, capable of soldiering bravely in foreign battles of World War II, America was still treating them as second class citizens or less here at home. Major League Baseball would lead the nation in recovering from its racial prejudicial past. The nation, even with a Black President, is still playing catch up.

excerpt from"Black Diamond: The Story of the Negro Baseball Leagues"
by Patricia McKissack & Fredrick McKissack, Jr.

Only one thing is keeping them out of the big leagues, and that is the pigmentation of their skin." Shirley Povich washington post

Clark Griffith, owner of the Washington senators, the first one to speak out against the 'gentleman's agreement" that had banned blacks from the sport since the National League was founded, made this famous prediction:
"A lone Negro in the game will face caustic comments. He will be made the target of cruel, filthy epithets. Of course, I know the time will come when the ice will have to be broken. Both by the organized game and by the colored player who is willing to volunteer and thus become a sort of martyr to the cause."
Gabby Hartnett, manager of the Chicago cubs, added this: "If managers were given permission, there'd be a mad rush to sign up Negroes."
Although the critics of segregation were growing in number, there weren't enough of them to overcome the strong opposition that wanted to maintain the status quo. They used these arguments to keep the color line clearly drawn:
1. A large number of major league players were southerners, and they wouldn't play with or against black players.
2. Fans might riot if there was a dispute between a white and black player.
3. The clubs trained in the South. Black players couldn't stay in hotels, and they were forbidden by law to participate in sports with whites.
4. Black players just weren't good enough.
Everybody knew these were hollow excuses, but nobody was willing to rock the boat.
Black players had heard it all before. "We didn't think anything was going to happen," said Buck Leonard. "We thought that they were just going to keep talking about it, that's all. They'd talked about it all those years and there'd been nothing done. We just didn't pay it any attention. We'd say, well, if it comes, we hope to have a chance to play, but we just didn't pay it any mind."

The African American Baseball Experience

Monday, February 22, 2010

How The Raiders Came To Oaktown

Like most Raiders fans I miss football season. Sure we only won five games, but you know our motto; Win, Lose or Tie!

So to pass the time until the NFL draft comes around I figured I'd brush up on my Raiders history. It never ceases to amaze me that just when I think I know Oakland Raiders history fact from fiction, I discover something new.

I came across this blog post titled "How The Raiders Came To Oakland." I'd once read about the AFL/NFL in the late 50's early 60'scompeting to enroll cities for football franchises. I knew that the AFL Chiefs were originally in Dallas until the NFL setup the Cowboys in the same city to drive business away from the Chiefs. Instead, it pushed the Chiefs to find a new home in Kansas City. As for our Oakland Raiders, it would be another NFL franchise that we can thank for opening the door to a Silver & Black franchise being granted in the bay.

Here's the beginning of the post with a link to the full story:
Raider Nation has the Minnesota Vikings to thank for Oakland ever having a team. When the American Football League (AFL) was being formed in late 1959 - early 1960, Minnesota was one of the cities ready to join the new league. The AFL was being formed by Lamar Hunt and other investors who had made numerous unsuccessful attempts to get an expansion team from the NFL for their city. read the full story

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Beautiful Black HerStory

This beautiful actress makes me proud to be from the east coast. A place where sistas keep their beauty real with all naturalness. For as much eye candy that Los Angeles has to offer, there's really no substitute for a beautiful homegrown woman with piercing intelligent eyes encased in a soulful Black face. I mean, just look at her folks! Impeccable with a fresh style all her own. And God Made WOman.

post from Black Beauty of the Day blog
Malinda Williams (1975- ) is an American actress, probably best known for playing Tracy "Bird" van Adams on "Soul Food" on Showtime from 2000 to 2004. She was married to Mekhi Phifer from 1999 to 2003 and has a son by him. In 2008 she married D-Nice. She grew up and lives in Westfield, New Jersey in suburban New York.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Our Nation's Shining Future - We Be Alright!

Tiger Restores Integrity, Media Left Starving

Today's apology press conference by Tiger Woods may not have been on the media's terms, but Tiger stood up and acknowledged his selfish actions that led to hurting his family and those close to him. Sure he threw in his partnerships for good measure, the brotha still gotta eat. Tiger expressed sincere sorrow and remorse and spoke of the help he's getting to conquer infidelity. Tiger seemed humbled.

At first I wasn't all for hearing a Tiger apology for something that happened in his personal life. But after hearing his apology I learned just how much of a role model he is to kids and philanthropic organizations around the world.

For some of us we didn't need to hear Tiger apologize to accept him as a good human being who makes mistakes.

For some of us we'll never accept an apology from Tiger because we feel some actions are unforgivable.

And for many, like those in the media, who treat stories of this nature like a Thanksgiving Day turkey, they appreciate the apology BUT they're still hungry. After stuffing this story and basting it for months, they expected to carve and feed on it until only a stripped down carcass remained. Most turkeys would have just let them run the show, allowing themselves to be plucked and picked apart by these vultures. But Woods showed us that he's not the turkey the media's been dressing and basting for their viewers. He showed us the real Tiger who does things on his own terms and for reasons he feels are important.

Funny with this being the Chinese Year of the Tiger, that here our media is trying desperately to slay/lynch a Tiger on an international stage. Watch in the next few days the actions and words of angry vultures who just didn't get enough to eat.

Maybe if the media could think in the interest of Tiger's family instead of ratings and sales. But wait a minute, what was I thinking, this is America, where making money by exploitation has been fine tuned to an art form.

Congratulations Tiger on winning by far your best round of competition against hungry opponents. But stay attentive, they'll continue in underhanded ways to try exploiting and exposing your weaknesses. Even if it means changing the playing rules. Don't sleep on the media brotha. It seems they have a way of making those who they've spotlighted during good times, feel obligated to tell them all during bad times. Then its sell sell sell!

"The Jungle Creed Says The Strongest Feed
On Any Prey It Can.
And I Was Branded Beast At Every Feast
Before I Ever Became A Man"
"Movie Deep Cover"

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I'm Mad As Hell, And I'm Not Gonna Take It Anymore!

ver experience that feeling of helplessness when confronting the Internal Revenue Service about your "past transgressions?" Well, today's news reports that some poor tax payer, completely frustrated and crazed over his inability to see things through the IRS's eyes, just couldn't take it anymore.

Case and point. In Austin, Texas today fifty-three year old Joseph Stack wrote a suicide note, set fire to his home and proceeded to drive 30 miles to Georgia, Tx where his single-engine Piper Cherokee is housed. He did not file a flight plan which is proper protocol for any flight.

After a thunderous explosion followed by fire ripped through a seven story building that houses the IRS in Austin,Tx, it soon became apparent where Stacks flight plan was filed; in his disturbed mind.

In the suicide note left behind, Stack cited run-ins with the IRS tax agency, government bailouts and corporate America's "thugs and plunderers." Yes folks, Stack was mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore. Here's some of what else was in the note:

"I have had all I can stand," he wrote in the note, dated Thursday, adding: "I choose not to keep looking over my shoulder at `big brother' while he strips my carcass."

I'm sure some of us tax payers have felt like stripped carcasses after paying our dues to our country. But "Come'On Man," you can't go flying planes into buildings and harming innocent people because things didn't go your way. I wonder if Stack had already tried yelling out his window that he was mad as hell and not gonna take this anymore? Maybe, just maybe, the crazed voice inside his troubled head answered back.

Read the rest of the terror filled story.
Man Angry At IRS Crashes Plane Into Building

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Tonight while surfing through On Demand sports I randomly chose ESPN. I was then shown a full page of ESPN choices that included the following:


World Cup

Australian Open


So you can guess which one I clicked on. For the next two hours or so I relived the short classic boxing era that was all knockout Iron Mike Tyson's.

For five long years beginning in 1985, Iron Mike was a brutal force in professional boxing. His approach was very simple. He entered the ring, always touched gloves kindly with his opponent after instructions, then commenced in tagging said opponent with power punches that bordered on a felony assault. The young Mike Tyson displayed power and quickness that the boxing world hadn't seen since Sonny Liston and Foe Frazier. His first 19 professional fights all ended in knockouts, 13 of which were in round 1.

The young Mike Tyson bobbed and weaved with such quickness that his opponent usually didn't see the punch that ended the fight. Mike Tyson would become a boxing phenomenon known throughout the world and feared by boxers. You'd see the fear in the eyes of opponents as soon as the bell would ring to begin round 1. Legendary fighters like Michael Spinks and Larry Holmes, an old Holmes, were no exception to the fear factor once in the ring with Tyson. Tyson forced us to love his powerful style. In hindsight, I believe mankind feared Mike Tyson at the pinnacle of his career.

Challengers with names like James 'Bonecrusher' Smith, Carl 'The Truth' Williams, Tony 'TNT' Tubbs and 'Slammin' Sammy Scaff fell victim to the power and speed of attack of a young Mike Tyson. Tyson became the first Heavyweight to unify all three boxing titles. Nintendo had come out with a video game titled "Mike Tyson's Knockout Punch" and as Scarface so prophetically stated "The World is Yours!" The 1980's would end with Mike Tyson as the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.

Then came Feb. 11, 1990, a night that'll live in the annals of sports infamy. It was Tyson's second time fighting in Japan, the first being a first round knockout of Michael Spinks, you remember, Leons younger brother.

The challenger? B u s t e r D o u g l a s, a man who's mother had recently died, wanted to win it for his mom. Nobody, and I mean nobody thought Buster had a fighting chance of even making it out of the first minute much less the first round. But I guess Buster's deceased mom put in a special divine order for her underdog son and the stage was set for history. Every boxing fan would remember the climatic call in the 10th round, the round following a knockdown of Douglas in the ninth. The only one who may not remember is Iron Mike. Here's a look back at history in the making some 20 years ago:

Sebastian Janikowski Signs 4-Year Deal

The Oakland Raiders career scoring leader has just signed a $16 million dollar deal that will keep him wearing Silver and Black for four more years. Kicker Sebastian Janikowski has been the Raiders most consistent scoring threat over these dismal years. Sea-Bass deserves every penny the contract pays him. He's stayed loyal and committed to the Raiders for what seems like a decade.

Congratulations Raiders and Sebastian Janikowski for taking care of off-season business. Now let's begin putting together a nice wardrobe of Silver and Black for DE Richard Seymour.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Saints Prove Good GM Equates Success

Listed as one of the keys to SBXLIV Champion New Orleans Saints success is the outstanding work of General Manager Mickey Loomis. Here's what Sr. Analyst Pat Kirwan had to say about it:

Build the back end

The story behind the story for the Saints is the great job general manager Mickey Loomis did putting together the back end of his roster. New Orleans' injured reserve list was in the double digits, but the team still managed to succeed.
Key players such as left tackle Jammal Brown, defensive tackle Kendrick Clancy, defensive end Charles Grant and fullback Heath Evans had to be replaced during the season and other core special teamers and quality reserves also went down.
Most teams that lose four starters, especially when three of them play with their hand on the ground, don't get to a Super Bowl, let alone win it.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Defensive Dagger Solidifies Saints Victory!

The New Orleans Saints had taken an improbable lead over the Indianapolis Colts late in the 4th quarter. No problem for surgeon QB Peyton Manning and his quick action offense. Comebacks from trailing late in games this season was simply business as usual for the Colts.

While 90% of football fans figured they were witnessing Manning about to add a historic drive to the annals of Super Bowl legend, the Saints defense thrust a dagger straight through the heart of nostalgia with a historic moment of their own. The stage had been set for a climaxing drama worthy of ye ole Shakespeare himself. And for those wearing Blue jerseys emblazoned with White numerals, the tragedy will be felt and remembered long after the dagger was thrust by Saints cornerback Tracy Porter.

Congratulations to SB MVP Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Is It Okay To Cross?

Is it okay to cross

These words spoken by a blind man at an intersection in San Francisco on a Saturday Night.

Is it Okay to cross?

Just an echo in the festive evening dew that signifies San Francisco in February.

The avenues were lit up with lights that this blind man was oblivious to. Yet in his voice you heard the bright hopeful beam of love and kindness.

Is it okay to Cross?

I nor any other two-eyed pedestrians paid any attention to the blind man's chant, judging perhaps that this man was just another burden pushing up against us in this forty-nine square miles of city.

Is it okay To cross?

Gradually something brotherly whispers to me in the depths of my being that even I cannot ignore. It builds.

I stop, start, stop and turn back to give not only the okay, but a tiny universe of friendly companionship as I offer up Time to the blind man. For that's all it seemed he really wanted and I had to give. Time.

Yes its okay to cross, with Me.

I walk with the blind man, a native son of Cincinnati, Ohio just one block. We converse and talk Saturday night jive to one another as if we're from the same east coast neighborhood.

Yes, it is Okay to cross with me.

With his hand on my right shoulder and an angel on my left, we stroll down Geary boulevard enjoying the San Francisco winter which bares no snow.

Yes, with Me its okay to cross.

At blocks end I bid farewell to my brother and comrade as he gives thanks and blessings to my onward journey.

As I depart and whisper silent prayers for my brother's safety I hear again the start of his earthly chant.

Is it okay to cross?

I continue on, four steps from inserting my key into the gate of my dwelling. The chant echoes once more as I unhesitatingly pull open and close my gate of time with the blind man.

Just as I'm opening and stepping through the final portal door that completely cuts me off from the echos of time outside, I hear a jolly interruption to the blind man's chant.

Yes it is okay to cross, let Me cross it with You.

Another comrade sent to take my place and see the blind man on his journey.

Yes it is okay to cross.

Touch someone and allow someone to touch you.

I was touched!

This a true story that happened twenty minutes ago outside. take time to touch.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Black History Month

I couldn't help but to pick up a book from my library yesterday titled "Lynching Photographs." The book is an analyzing look at photographs taken during lynchings of African-Americans in the early part of the twentieth century. The featured photo and discussion is of the infamous Lawrence Beitler photograph shown above.

The flash illuminated faces of onlookers in the photo, which includes a pregnant woman in the foreground, reveals as much about this time capsule as the strange fruit hanging from the tree. This photo, taken in 1930, has since been used to depict crimes against humanity worldwide.

In 1918 U.S. Congressman L.C. Dyer introduced an anti-lynching bill that would make the crime a federal felony. The bill passed in the house of representatives in 1922 but was defeated in the senate. It would take 83 years for an anti-lynching bill to be passed by both U.S. houses thereby making lynching a federal crime. It is stated in the book that the horrifying photos of lynchings played a huge part in getting the bill passed into law in 2005.

Never underestimate the power of pictures or the conscience of men to bring about change, even if that change doesn't come for eight decades and a trey.

Though February is the month to showcase past African-American accomplishments I felt compelled to post this piece of American history as a way to highlight the enduring courage of African-Americans in the face of racial prejudice as practiced by a faction of the majority class of American citizens and the government. Through sheer negligence, the government endorsed the actions of lynching mobs. In one photo I came across, not in this book, the town Sheriff with badge, billy club and all, was part of the crowd gawking at the strange fruit pictured hanging from a poplar tree.

Also see: A Lynching in the Heartland: Race and Memory in America
Lyrics by: Lewis Allan aka Abel Meeropol (Jewish-American)
Originally sung by: Billie Holiday
Southern trees bear strange fruit
Blood on the leaves
Blood at the root
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees
Pastoral scene of the gallant south
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth
The scent of magnolia sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh
Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck
for the rain to gather
for the wind to suck
for the sun to rot
for the tree to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop

Monday, February 01, 2010

AFC Wins Pro Bowl 41-34

Raiders LS/LB Jon Condo gets ready to cover a kickoff.

Oakland Raiders Punter Shane Lechler, Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and Special Teams player Jon Condo helped the AFC Pro Bowlers defeat the NFC in South Florida over the weekend.

Not a game taken too seriously by the players, the AFC seemed to be the dominant team throughout though the NFC kept it competitive. Also representing the Raiders at the Pro Bowl was the lovely eight-year veteran Raiderette Cole.