Monthly Archives: January 2009

A Song for Ourselves World Premiere 2.28.09

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Gotta give the homie Tad Nakamura some shine and encourage those on the west coast to hit up the premiere of his new film, “A Song for Ourselves,” on February 28th in LA.

“During the 1970s when Asians in America were invisible to the country–and more importantly even to themselves–the late Chris Iijima’s music provided the voice and identity an entire generation had been in search of. Through animated photographs, intimate home movies, archival footage and Chris’ own songs, A Song For Ourselves shows how Chris’ music unleashed the contagious energy of the Asian American Movement with an unrelenting passion for social justice and a life well lived.”

I was very blessed to know Chris Iijima and his wonderful family personally. As one of the most brilliant, talented and progressive brothers I have ever had the privilege of knowing/learning from, I was deeply saddened by his death a few years ago and thought he still had so much to share with the world. With this film, I’m happy that in spite of his passing, audiences will still have the opportunity to meet Chris in some way and learn from his experiences.

The premiere will also feature performances by Blue Scholars, Bambu and Kiwi, who are in my opinion some of the most talented brothers in the hip hop game right now. Don’t sleep, west coasters! It’s gonna be a really dope show. For more info and to purchase tickets, check out the film’s blog.

You can watch Tad’s first film, “Yellow Brotherhood,” over at vimeo now.

An iPhone/iPod version can also be downloaded here.

Josh Smith Classic

Tough loss to the Suns, but damn…J-Smoove is a beast.

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Jay-Z in DC

Apparently Young Jeezy performed in DC last Sunday and brought out Jay-Z to perform the as yet unreleased remix to “Black President” on the eve of President Barack Obama’s inauguration. Jay absolutely kills his verse (lyrics reprinted below), and it’s dope to see the crowd go bananas after he spits it.

Lyrics to Jay’s verse, “Black President” remix:

My President is black
My Maybach too
And I’ll be goddamned if my diamonds ain’t blue
My money’s dark green
And my Porsche is light grey
And I’m headed for DC, anybody feel me ?

My president is black – in fact he’s half white
So even in a racist mind, he’s half right
Even if you’ve got a racist mind, it’s all right
My President is black, but his house is all white
Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther could walk
Martin Luther walked so Barack Obama could run
Barack Obama ran so all our children could fly
So I’m a spread my wings, you could meet me in the sky
Already got my own clothes, already got my own shoes
I was hot before Barack, imagine what I’m gonna do
Hello miss America, hey pretty lady
Red white and blue flag, wave for me baby
Never thought id say this shit, baby I’m good
You can keep your puss, I don’t want no more Bush
No more war, no more Iraq
No more white lies – My President is black

I also really liked Hova’s performance at the Neighborhood Ball on Inauguration night (posted below), where he performed his new song, “History.” I don’t know man, I just dig the classiness that he brought to this song/performance (looking like Malcolm with the wide rimmed glasses Jay’s been real into lately), on some grown man shit.

1.20.2009: On a cold day in DC…

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I was fortunate to be able to share in celebrating with millions of other people the inauguration of Barack H. Obama to the presidency of the United States. It was surreal to be there, and I joked with my friends and family that Obama has created an alternate reality in which human decency is restored (for real though, everyone in DC was mad friendly; even the police were helpful and didn’t make a single arrest!).

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Although I don’t agree with Obama on all the issues, I respect him as a human being based on the small window of his personal life that we have been allowed to see, and am so happy to have an intelligent, rational person back in the big seat after the last eight years of Bush ridiculousness.

Of course, the homie Rage eloquently keeps things in perspective, telling us to:

“…Take a deep, collective breath, because regardless of how this election turned out, there would still be homeless folks on the streets, poor people struggling to maintain some kind of stability in a rapidly changing world, and inequality, hatred, and violence acting out on everyone from individuals to nation-states. We’re all yearning to be free, but are our definitions the same?”

One man can’t fix a huge, fucked up, bureaucratic empire (or even have the desire to, for that matter), but I hold out hope that we will see at least see some moderate change for the better under an Obama administration. Lord knows we need it right now, both locally and globally.

(President and First Lady Obama greeting the crowd at the Neighborhood Ball, kind of summarizing why I dig his swagger and general messaging)


Rickey Henderson

Former Oakland A’s player and Oakland native Rickey Henderson was inducted to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame earlier this week. The Box has to give him some love because he’s my favorite A’s player and one of my favorite overall baseball players, period. Arguably the best lead off hitter to ever play the game, he also didn’t even officially retire from league play until late 2007, and jokes about still wanting to play now at the age of 50. Congrats, Rickey, I have fond memories of you helping the A’s sweep the Giants in the Battle of the Bay 1989 World Series, probably some of my earliest memories ever.

I’m kind of checked out of following baseball these days, mostly because:  1) the A’s suck; 2) their racist, douchebag owner Lew Wolff is going to remove the team from Oakland and take them to Fremont; and 3) I live in Atlanta now and don’t really want to support the Braves because I can’t stand sports teams who use any kind of Native American imagery for their franchises.

We’ve talked about this a lot in the past here at The Box, but I’ll say it again: it’s about time for cities or non-profit entities to organize to take back sports franchises from douchebag billionaires so we don’t have to continue dealing with the threat of having our beloved teams move away; or our tax dollars going to subsidize building huge stadiums that have only ever proven to devestate the neighborhoods they move into; or sky rocketing ticket/food prices  (it sure as hell isn’t a family event anymore when you have to shell out hundreds of dollars for your family to go, at least not for working class folks). Wouldn’t it be dope for profits made from sports teams to be reinvested in things like education and healthcare? It’s possible if cities own their sports teams, and you do that through a process called municipalization. The Green Bay Packers in the National Football League are an example of this.

Step Brothers

I finally saw this movie and I fucking love it. I’m not a fan of all the Apatow comedy flicks, but I do like a lot of them, and when they’re on, they really make some funny shit.

John C. Reilly: “When you oppress people, they rise up in a furious anger!”

Ahahahahahahah!

Oakland Burning

Happy new year, Box fans, took a break during December but we’re back now.

Unfortunately, folks in Oakland and the Bay Area were presented with a shitty way to ring in the new year. It’s been all over the news, and a lot of the homies have already written about it, so I’m sure most folks know that 22 year-old Oscar Grant of Hayward, Ca. was shot and killed on New Year’s Day at the Fruitvale BART station by BART Police officer Johannes Mehserle. Grant was unarmed, lying on his stomach, a complete non-threat to the three or more officers who had him pinned down before Mehserle pulled out his gun and executed him. BART police tried to collect onlookers’ cell phone cameras to cover up the incident. Luckily, it’s the YouTube era, so some folks were able to keep their phones and released the footage virally on the internet:

Protests have been staged regularly since the murder occurred, and erupted in violence last Wednesday night.

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Although I don’t advocate violence, I understand that this is a reflection of the anger, fury and frustration felt by communities of color who routinely see their family members killed by the state, with no accountability or repercussions. Violence could have been prevented if it looked like the government was actually taking steps to reach some sense of justice in this matter. Instead, it was the same old bureaucratic politicking. A whole week gone by and the officer hasn’t even made a statement to the public, to investigators, to the victim’s family? And now he’s resigned from BART, meaning that he doesn’t even have to cooperate with BART’s “internal” investigation? BART police trying to collect witnesses’ cell phone cameras to cover up the incident, and then criticizing people for virally releasing that footage over the internet? It’s the same old racist bullshit that has become all too common for communities of color: the police and the state has full authority to kill people of color, particularly young Black men, and they know that they will not be punished for it. The difference this time is that the people of Oakland got angry and decided that if the bureaucrats weren’t going to do anything, they would.

George Ciccariello-Maher wrote a great article on CounterPunch that kind of summarizes the whole situation at this point:

“It doesn’t matter if Mehserle meant to pull the trigger. He had already assumed the role of sole arbiter over the life or death of Oscar Grant. He had already decided that Grant, by virtue of his skin color and appearance, was worth less than other citizens. And rather than acquitting the officer, all of the psychological analyses and possible explanations of the shooting that have been trotted-out in the press, and all the discussion of the irrelevant elements of Grant’s criminal history, have only proven this fundamental point.”

I’m pretty sure that if it was a 22 year-old white kid they had pinned down on the BART platform on New Year’s Day, Mehserle would have thought twice about pulling his gun.

With another action planned for next Wednesday, this situation is far from over. I hope further violence can be avoided, but it is clear that the people are tired of being victims of racist killings by the state that go unpunished. They will be out in the streets demanding justice, and Oakland could continue to burn.