Tuesday, June 24, 2008

back to basics

I feel like I need a "reboot". I plan to work with Hamza Yusuf's booklet Agenda To Change Our Condition and see how it goes. There are some other texts I might want to add to that as well (Hanafi fiqh, Al-Ghazzali [1]) but this will be a good framework to start.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

quien no tiene de congo (tiene de carabali)

"Quien no tiene de congo (tiene de Carabali)"
La Habana, 2003, Black and White Photograph, 24x30.
Umi Vaughan

shades of race in contemporary cuba

I've mentioned Umi before but after I found this piece and some of his photos online I thought it would be nice to revisit his work. As far as I can tell, he's currently a professor in California doing African-type studies.

Shades of Race in Contemporary Cuba
by Umi Vaughan

As an African American man living in Cuba I am surprised and overwhelmed by the kaleidescope of names Cuban people use to describe race in their country, and I wonder what is to happen if and when American cultural influence fully invades Cuba again." I wrote this line in my field notes during a long stay on the island in 2002 and 2003 conducting anthropological research about popular music and Cuban society. Both Cuba and the U.S. are melting pots, where various racial and national sources feed the continual process of nation building and cultural production. In both places, because of the decimation of indigenous populations and the importance of African slave labor for European masters, the binary of European/African or black/white became key. In the struggle between these groups there was much pain, exchange, and creation. The contributions of other immigrant groups, while of great importance, only impact and destabilize but never displace the black/ white paradigm of race in America or Cuba. In Cuba's politics as well as its race matters I see a kinder, gentler take on the ways of an imperfect world, similar to our U.S. system, yet different. In these times of increased U.S. conservatism and international intervention, all with racial implications--some even predicting a U.S. invasion of Cuba--it is well to consider how people think and talk about race in Cuba with an eye to what it reveals about that nation. This also invites reflection about our own America.

Here in the U.S. African Americans understand color distinctions like blue black, red bone, high yellow, and honey brown, but our main distinction is between black and white. In Cuba these terms--blanco y negro--are joined by others like mulato, jabao, trigueZo, and moro, as well as a plethora of distinctions within and in-between these descriptions. Much more colorful and expressive than the quadroons and octoroons that live in the history of North American racial talk, revealing a mathematical conception of color and ethnicity, the Cuban terms rely on appearance, temperament, and intention (of the speaker) as well as express a clear hierarchy in which white is right and black...ya tú sabes/you know the rest. Nancy Morejón [1] asserts that "the Afro Cuban essence" exists and notes that the term "afrocubano" was coined by Fernando Ortiz [2] as part of a continuum balanced by "hispanocubano," referring to the predominance of African or Spanish elements in various aspects of Cuban culture. Ortiz elaborated the concept of transculturation in which two or more cultures come into contact, elements from each culture are lost, new forms are created, and a cultural product different from the ingredient parts is born. Cuban society and its race codes are interesting because they show great plurality and flexibility, underscoring the permeability of categories while at the same time reflecting origins in the institution of slavery, colonialism, and neocolonialism. Folks who would be considered simply black in the U.S. and subject to a monolithic racism, in Cuba fall into many shades of categorization in a society that has indisputably made great efforts toward equality on many levels. At the same time adelantar la raza, or to improve the race, does not refer to creating more cultural awareness or unified economic action on the part of people of color, but rather finding lighter-skinned partners to make lighter-skinned babies.

As in many other places in the world, there are many comely, dark chocolate to blue-black Africans in Cuba. Negro fino (refined), negro bonito (good looking), and negro serio (serious) are a few positive designations that acknowledge their clear African heritage and honor with respect the contributions of black Cubans like Antonio Maceo, Juan Gualberto Gomez, and Evaristo Estenoz to Cuban history. When negro fosforescente (coal black), negro bembón (big lipped black), negro fula (brother up to no good), negro verde (angry), mono (monkey), or negro palmao (broke black man) are used, negativity is being expressed in terms of undesirable, "ugly" African features, stereotypically black (mis)behavior, and social and economic underdevelopment. It is clear that Africa has permeated Cuban culture, in everything from the exquisite shades of skin, the rhythms of speech, and the nourishment from dance and music, cuisine, and worship; however, at the same time, elements that are too purely African, or that reveal the legacy of slavery (i.e., blacks' weaker economic position or shorter history of formal education) are rejected. It seems that positive evaluations of black are anomalies that disrupt the normal perception of black as bad, antisocial, inferior. Dynamic, talented blacks are sometimes referred to as blancos echados a perder (white folks gone to waste). Blacks, especially women, are said to be best suited for labor rather than love. Negrito is a common derogative diminutive. However, at the same time negro or negra is also a term of endearment regardless of your loved one's color.

There are also categories which fall in between and augment the main ones.

For example, very dark-skinned people with fine facial features (slim noses, pursed lips) and good hair are called moros--after the Moors who are present in Cuba's Spanish heritage. Sometimes in order to flatter someone, utilizing the subtle language of race, you might refer to them as moro when more accurately they should be described as negro. For example, one evening a gentleman approached me to sell several pairs of eyeglasses in very poor condition; in order to butter me up for this hard sell, he immediately began calling me moro. On another occasion I was being summoned by someone and did not realize they were talking to me because they kept calling me, "hey you, mulato!"

Mulato or mulata is a vague term that refers to a mixture between black and white, giving the offspring the best of both worlds, passion and soul, pelo bueno (good hair) and fine features. Fair-skinned mulatos are called mulato claro (light), mulato blanconazo (big white mulato), or adelantao (advanced/evolved) while the darker-skinned can be called mulato oscuro or mulato con trova (with soul, a little more of Africa). In the black/white continuum, the mulato or mulata are not simply median, but are said to be la combinación perfecta, with a mystique of sensuality and beauty that is evoked to represent Cuba itself. Cuba is known by many por sus habanos y sus mulatas (for its cigars and its women). There are ladies in La Habana drinking Mulata brand rum as they speak of this or that tremendo mulato (hunk/tenda). The main character in one of Cuba's most significant works of literature from the nineteenth century, Cirilo Villaverde's Cecilia Valdés, is a beautiful mulata. Mulatas and mulatos are said to be good for sex.

Jabao is another category. A kind of median, like the mulato, however stripped of the idyllic qualities of sensuality and beauty. Jabaos usually have fair skin with kinky hair and clear African facial features (wide noses, thick lips, etc.). Some have reddish or even blond hair and are said to be la candela, extremely mischievous and picaresque. It is said that los jabao no tienen raza (jabaos have no race) and that they do not mix well (genetically) with other races. Los jabaos son malos (jabaos are bad) is another often heard phrase.

In the barrios of Havana you will inevitably find someone who responds immediately to the nickname chino or china. The Chinese who started entering Cuba in 1847 as indentured servants to augment slave labor established long lasting communities and left their genetic legacy. During the slavery era Chinese men reproduced with free black women and mulatas because steps were taken to keep separate the Chinese laborers and the slaves. Anybody with slightly slanted eyes is likely to be called chino, identified with this early mixture or that which took place as the Chinese continued to migrate as business people, ambassadors, and students throughout the 1920s and 30s.

White folks in Cuba would not really be considered white by U.S. racial standards. They are slightly dark, tawny, marked by the influence of the Moors on their Spanish ancestors and by over 500 years of sharing the island of Cuba with descendants of Africa and more recently arrived Chinese. This phenotype is preferred by many when it comes to attractiveness and social acceptability, although it does imply the clumsiness and lack of grace/rhythm attributed to whites in the U.S. And yes, the O.J. Simpson complex does exist, in which success and true influence is marked by access to white partners. Whites are best for love and marriage. Still, the Afro-Cuban essence rules over Cuba. Most people there would agree that, in the words of Cuba's national poet Nicolas Guillén, Cubans are "todos mezclados" (all mixed up).

Umi Vaughan is an artist and experimental ethnographer who explores dance, creates photographs and performances, and writes about African Diaspora culture. [...] He studies popular music and performance in Cuba in relation to social transformation. He has made many visits to the island and resided there from June 2002 to October 2003, conducting research for his dissertation and forthcoming book ("Timba Brava: Maroon Music in Cuba").

1. Nancy Morejón, "Afro-Cuban Identity: Cuba and the Afro-Cuban Essence: A Metaphor?," in Cuba on the Verge, ed. Terry McCoy (New York: Bulfinch Press, 2003).

2. Fernando Ortiz, Cuban Counterpoint: Tobacco and Sugar (Durham: Duke University Press, 1995).

Friday, June 20, 2008

"do your math..." (part two)

There is within the spiritual universe of Islam a dimension which may be called "Abrahamic Pythagoreanism" or a way of seeing numbers and figures as keys to the structure of the cosmos and as symbols of the archetypal world and also a world which is viewed as the creation of God in the sense of the Abrahamic monotheisms. It is this possibility within the intellectual universe of Islam and not any external influences that enabled Islam to develop a philosophy of mathematics akin to the Pythagorean-Platonic tradition of antiquity [...]
-Seyyid Hossein Nasr, from the Forward of Islamic Patterns by Keith Critchlow

So I recently picked up the book Islamic Patterns. I've owned it for a while, what I'm saying is that I'm making another attempt to get through it. It contains some interesting discussions of the philosophical principles which lay behind much of the geometric artwork in the Islamic world. To be honest, it is taking some effort to get through. What I'm finding is that my own mathematical training makes it hard for me to really see where Critchlow is coming from. There is definitely a gap between the typical academic concept of what a number is or what geometry is about and the Pythagorean notion of the same.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

"do your math..."

Recently I've been thinking in general terms about different kinds of mathematics: partly with the hopes of developing an innovative curriculum for my students next year, partly for my curiosity and edification, partly with hopes of putting together some kind of article or document, and possibly in order to develop a career as not just a mathematician but a numerologist of sorts.

One route (exemplefied by the song "Mathematics") is to extract the mathematical content of our everyday lives with an eye towards social relevance. Another route would be to take a more metaphysical path (through the I Ching, sacred geometry, enneagrams, and similar constructions). We'll see how it goes.

[Mos Def]
Ha hah
You know the deal
It's just me yo
Beats by Su-Primo for all of my peoples, negroes and latinos
and even the gringos

Yo, check it one for Charlie Hustle, two for Steady Rock
Three for the fourth comin live, future shock
It's five dimensions, six senses
Seven firmaments of heaven to hell, 8 Million Stories to tell
Nine planets faithfully keep in orbit
with the probable tenth, the universe expands length
The body of my text posess extra strength
Power-liftin powerless up, out of this, towerin inferno
My ink so hot it burn through the journal
I'm blacker than midnight on Broadway and Myrtle
Hip-Hop past all your tall social hurdles
like the nationwide projects, prison-industry complex
Broken glass wall better keep your alarm set
Streets too loud to ever hear freedom sing
Say evacuate your sleep, it's dangerous to dream
but you chain cats get they CHA-POW, who dead now
Killin fields need blood to graze the cash cow
It's a number game, but shit don't add up somehow
Like I got, sixteen to thirty-two bars to rock it
but only 15% of profits, ever see my pockets like
sixty-nine billion in the last twenty years
spent on national defense but folks still live in fear like
nearly half of America's largest cities is one-quarter black
That's why they gave Ricky Ross all the crack
Sixteen ounces to a pound, twenty more to a ki
A five minute sentence hearing and you no longer free
40% of Americans own a cell phone
so they can hear, everything that you say when you ain't home
I guess, Michael Jackson was right, "You Are Not Alone"
Rock your hardhat black cause you in the Terrordome
full of hard niggaz, large niggaz, dice tumblers
Young teens and prison greens facin life numbers
Crack mothers, crack babies and AIDS patients
Young bloods can't spell but they could rock you in PlayStation
This new math is whippin motherfuckers ass
You wanna know how to rhyme you better learn how to add
It's mathematics

Chorus: scratched by DJ Premier (repeat 2X)

"The Mighty Mos Def.."
"It's simple mathematics" -> Fat Joe
"Check it out!"
"I revolve around science.."
"What are we talking about here?"

.. "Do your math" -> Erykah Badu (2X) ..
.. "One.. t-t-two.. three, four" -> James Brown ..
.. "What are we talking about here?" ..

[Mos Def]
Yo, it's one universal law but two sides to every story
Three strikes and you be in for life, manditory
Four MC's murdered in the last four years
I ain't tryin to be the fifth one, the millenium is here
Yo it's 6 Million Ways to Die, from the seven deadly thrills
Eight-year olds gettin found with 9 mill's
It's 10 P.M., where your seeds at? What's the deal
He on the hill puffin krill to keep they belly filled
Light in the ass with heavy steel, sights on the pretty shit in life
Young soldiers tryin to earn they next stripe
When the average minimum wage is $5.15
You best believe you gotta find a new ground to get cream
The white unemployment rate, is nearly more than triple for black
so frontliners got they gun in your back
Bubblin crack, jewel theft and robbery to combat poverty
and end up in the global jail economy
Stiffer stipulations attached to each sentence
Budget cutbacks but increased police presence
And even if you get out of prison still livin
join the other five million under state supervision
This is business, no faces just lines and statistics
from your phone, your zip code, to S-S-I digits
The system break man child and women into figures
Two columns for who is, and who ain't niggaz
Numbers is hardly real and they never have feelings
but you push too hard, even numbers got limits
Why did one straw break the camel's back? Here's the secret:
the million other straws underneath it - it's all mathematics


{closing scratch} "Mathematics.."

two calls for pan-africanism from the muslim world

Pambazuka News: Obama: US president or world president? by Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem
Afriquenligne: Kadhafi reaffirms necessity of federal government of Africa

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

israel's openly secret nukes

In These Tiems: Israel’s Openly Secret Nukes by Salim Muwakkil

As usual, Salim Muwakkil is on target (so to speak). It just makes me wonder what the Middle East would look like if all nations were looked at symmetrically in terms of their compliance to the various international agreements, treaties and declarations.

See also:
spilling the beans
churches calls for divestment from israel
"i am become death, the destroyer of worlds"
the green party supports divestment

dhikr and my "inner taliban"

So I "went to dhikr" yesterday. I use quotes because in reality dhikr should be part of the basic punctuation of Muslim life so the idea of going to a specific location where dhikr can occur ir arguably rather odd. More specifically, I went to a gathering of the Shadhili tariqat [2] for group dhikr. The people were nice but I had to wrestle a bit with my "inner Taliban" since the people there were into "Sufism" but I wasn't sure if they were ready to say that they were "Muslim" or not. If I continue with them its just going to be something I'm going to have to work on somehow.

Coincidentally, I also discovered the following short film yesterday called Ms. Judgements. The people at dhikr were dressed like "gypsies" so I guess I'd identify most with the person right after:

obama and father's day

This past Sunday, Obama gave a sermon on fatherhood at the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago. And can I say how deep it is to see a candidate actually give a sermon as opposed to merely pandering to Evangelicals? I'm also sure that Obama is absolutely relieved to be able to speak for himself in a church instead of having others speak on his behalf (and have the media assume he approves the message). In this sermon, Obama manages to strike a tone somewhere between government-responsibility and community-responsibility which I think works really well. I'm curious about how it will play among the "religious right" and the white "values voters"?

mark gonzalez - audio intefadeh

The clip from Audio Intefadeh seems to suggest Mark Gonzalez but that's not totally clear to me. In any case, he is a brilliant spoken word artist who is definitely in solidarity with the Palestinian cause and is trying to make a difference through his words and actions.

Audio Intefadeh:

As With Most Men:

MySpace: Mark Gonzalez

Monday, June 16, 2008

junot diaz

The Ghetto nerd came to America at age 6 with his impoverished Dominican family, like so many others before them, yearning to taste the “American Dream.” The Ghetto nerd suffered the brutal jabs and blows of the “American reality” as his family faced one epic tragedy after another. The Ghetto nerd immersed himself in literature, inhaling popular culture like air, snorting fantasy and science fiction like cerebral cocaine, and drowning himself in the wondrous, exaggerated worlds of comic books. ... A month before winning the Pulitzer, I sat with Junot Diaz, the Ghetto Nerd himself, for a revealing and candid discussion about the devastating “curse” and emotional scars of a tyrannical dictatorship – in this case that of Dominican Republic’s horrific General Trujillo – on an immigrant, American family; the mainstream “whitewashing” of “brown” experiences; the power of popular culture and comics books to express one’s personal narrative; the arrogance of “Whiteness”; and the emergence of a multicultural voice reflecting an ethnic, “All American” America.

Goatmilk: REVENGE OF THE GHETTO NERD: Exclusive Interview with Pulitzer Winning Author Junot Diaz by Wajahat Ali

the dark knight: the rise of "the real" obama

Goatmilk: THE DARK KNIGHT: The Rise of “The Real” Obama

an open letter to certain white women who are threatening to withhold support from obama in november

This is an open letter to those white women who, despite their proclamations of progressivism, and supposedly because of their commitment to feminism, are threatening to withhold support from Barack Obama in November. You know who you are.

Your Whiteness is Showing by Tim Wise

goatmilk: an interview with noam chomsky by wajahat ali

CHOMSKY SPEAKS: An Interview with Noam Chomsky by Wajahat Ali on Vietnam, Iraq, the War on Terror and the limits of dissent.

goatmilk: rumi and sufism

I've linked to Wajahat Ali's blog before but I haven't checked him out in a while. It turns out I've missed a lot of good stuff. Here is an interview between Wajahat Ali and Islamic scholar Seyyid Hossein Nasr (who is also part of the Perennialist tradition we've discussed before here on Planet Grenada).

RUMI AND SUFISM: Examining Islam’s Spiritual Science in the Modern Age

the writings of yusef lateef

Blatantly stolen from Marc Manley over at The Manrilla Blog:

"From a small, self-published book entitled Something Else, jazz legend Yusef Lateef published an engaging book back in 1973. Yusef, who is known as a master multi-instrumentalist, is also a gifted writer, producing everything from short plays, essays, and poetry [as in this installment]. I have been putting segments of the book up on line. Here's the newest addition for your reading pleasure: http://www.manrilla.net/blog/reflections/

For more of Something Else, just visit the Blog and see the links under "Reads" on the right-hand side.


Dr. Hip Slick: On Hipness
Ode To Pieter Bruegel
Spiritual Aspects of Creating Music
The Constitution of Aesthetics, The Declaration of Genius and The Aesthetic Address
The Garments
The Outgame

Friday, June 13, 2008

the roots: the spark

I actually wanted to include a clip of this song back when I wrote the post: o son of being / the spark but did not find one until now. I've recently been thinking about the relationship between Islam and hip-hop and so The Roots came to mind again (Malik B is Sunni and Black Thought is/has been a Five Percenter). Also, in spite of what I said in my mayda del valle post I went ahead and got The Best of the Roots album a few days ago (along with Game Theory and Rising Down)

see also: an old list of rappers and their religion

Monday, June 09, 2008

political bits

1. I really like this image but was a bit surprised by how the mainstream networks were covering it. They were like "what is this mysterious gesture?". It is just another reminder of how "white" the mainstream press is in its perspective. It also an example of how Obama's candidacy (and hopefully his presidency) has the opportunity of being a sort of national teach-in on race relations; first by offering a peek into the Black church, and now introducing white people to African-American greeting practices.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, share a victory "dap" during an election night rally in St. Paul, MN

2. I'm not sure who Obama should pick as his running mate but I've been interested in Senator Jim Webb of Virginia ever since I'd caught part of an interview with him on NPR. He's a Vietnam veteran and an ex-Republican who today is highly critical of George W. Bush and the current Iraq War.

NPR: Senator Jim Webb, Choosing His Battles

3. I never cease to be amazed by the number of third-party candidates who run for president in each election in relative anonymity. Of course you have the Greens and the Libertarians, but there are also at least three different kinds of "socialist" parties (four if you count the Nazi party), you have the Fascist party, the Prohibition Party, the Constitution Party and even the Vampire, Witches and Pagan Party which are all putting up candidates. Some of these candidates seem to be running more as a joke or as a publicity stunt and others are "serious" but are obviously long-shots while many seem to lie somewhere in between.

4. A couple of the third-party presidential candidates are former elected officials who "defected" from the major parties. One is former Republican Congressman, Bob Barr who is running as the Libertarian Party candidate this year. One can only hope that he can serve as a spoiler for McCain in this election.

5. On the scary side, I recently found out that former Democratic member of Congress Rep. Cynthia McKinney is running for president on the Green Party ticket. I say scary because I think McKinney is likely to be a "spoiler". Some of the angry/ disappointed/ disgruntled Clinton supporters have already expressed their willingness to vote for McCain. But now McKinney offers yet another (arguably more attractive) option for liberals who don't want to vote for Obama. Given the tensions which currently exist in the Democratic party between Clinton supporters and Obama supporters, I think that there is a non-trivial mass of people who might be willing to make such a protest vote.

6. Now that I think about it, if Hillary had won her argument to the superdelegates, and they overruled the will of the non-superdelegates who went for Obama, I would have given serious thought to voting for McKinney myself.

7. By the way, times like these are why I wish we had proportional representation in the US so that genuine multi-party system could arise.

Friday, June 06, 2008

rise of the latin africans

hat tip to Tariq Nelson:

The Newsweek article, Rise Of The Latin Africans: A new black-power movement in Central and South America gives a quick overview of how different communities of people of African descent in Latin America are acting to improve their lot in Honduras, Ecuador and especially Colombia:

The epicenter of the new black activism [...] is Colombia. That's due as much to circumstance as design: more than a third of the 3.2 million Colombians uprooted by the country's long-running civil war are of African ancestry, as are many of the ragged street vendors and beggars who approach motorists at busy Bogotá intersections. Foreign and local NGOs are now working hard to publicize their plight. Though a landmark 1993 law enshrined the right of Afro-Colombians to obtain formal title to their ancestral lands, including 5 million hectares along the Pacific coast—a unique experiment in ethnic self-government—implementation has lagged, as unscrupulous agribusinesses and paramilitary warlords have seized communal property with near impunity. But recently, as part of its ongoing effort to win U.S. approval for a free-trade agreement, the government of President Alvaro Uribe has begun to expel these companies and restore 8,000 hectares of stolen land to Afro-Colombian community councils.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

more felipe luciano

We've posted some of Felipe Luciano's poetry before. Here is a second helping.

thoughts on obama's resignation from trinity united church of christ

So Obama finally resigned his membership at Trinity United Church of Christ. The whole situation is weird and sad on all kinds of levels.

One of the weird aspects is that the straw that broke the camel's back on this issue was a recent sermon last Sunday by the Catholic priest, Rev. Dr. Michael Pfleger but obviously Obama isn't even Catholic.

Also weird is the way that Pfleger's comments are being characterized. As "hateful"? As a rant? As "racist"? Admittedly, he was a bit harsh on Hillary but I would say that occasionally that being harsh on politicians in certainly part of the role of being a "prophetic" preacher. Pfleger's sermon also wasn't a "rant". It was definitely a rhetorically effective performance intended to satirize Hillary Clinton. But it certainly wasn't wild and irrational. By implication, Pfleger was simply making the point that some of the actions and reactions of Hillary Clinton and some of her supporters are motivated by a sense of racial entitlement. That's a perfectly reasonable and coherent claim and it is worth being discussed. It is either true or not true. Especially bizarre is the claim that the sermon was racist?!?!

The sad part of all this is the extent to which liberation theology is being demonized by the media and is being excluded from the political discourse. More generally, it is sad that the media and the political process can have as much influence as they on a person's religious declarations.

Monday, June 02, 2008

ken wilber

So I'm in the middle of reading The Essential Ken Wilber: An Introductory Reader. Wilber's an interesting guy. He's a perennialist in the sense that he attempts to bring together a number of different religious, mystical and psychological systems into a single integrated structure. He seems most familiar with Buddhism and Hinduism and doesn't really do much to actively incorporate Islam into his work. But the brother over at Inspirations and Creative Thoughts has a couple of interesting posts which emphasize some of those connections anyway.

Inspirations and Creative Thoughts: Integral mysticism in the postmodern world | Integral Spirituality and also I AMness | Integral vision of Ken Wilber and Sufism

See also:
Integral Naked on YouTube

Planet Grenada:
more on perennialism
perennialism and traditionalism

"well, i'm not gonna take the white house in 2008 on just my sparkling wit and funding from hostile governments."

I've mentioned the television show Angel and the fictional evil secret-society The Circle of the Black Thorn in a previous post. (see circle of the black thorn.) The only bit I wanted to talk about was how the last season started to get much more explicitly political. For example, from the season's very first episode there is a scene where the main characers are going through the files of Wolfram & Hart, an evil demon-owned LA legal firm:
This is unbelievable.
I think I've lost my appetite, which is kind of a first.
(reading a file)
Hmm, well, this is interesting. Apparently old Joe Kennedy tried to get out of his deal with the firm.
That explains a lot.
Yeah, but George, Senior - he read the fine print. There's no one these guys don't have a piece of.

Then towards the end of the season they introduced a Hillary Clinton stand-in, the character of Helen Brucker, a female Senator who is planning to win the presidency in 2008 with the help of Wolfram & Hart:
It's nice to see you again so soon, Angel.
ANGEL (upon finding out that Senator Brucker was a member of the Circle of the Black Thorn)
Senator. I had no idea you were so well...connected.
Well, I'm not gonna take the White House in 2008 on just my sparkling wit and funding from hostile governments.

Angel being a supernatural drama, the Senator actually isn't really human, but instead is some kind of demonic hellspawn who has managed to occupy a human body. Another interesting bit about this (which really wasn't on my mind when thse episodes first aired in 2004) is the fact that, in the series finale, Senator Brucker is killed with an axe to the head by Charles Gunn, the main Black character of the show. This all aired well before Obama declared his intentions to run for President to run so it is unlikely that Gunn is meant to be an Obama stand-in.

This has all been on my mind because "Power Play", the episode which introduced the Senator's character aired this past Friday morning, and the series finale "Not Fade Away" just aired this Monday morning.

Power Play
Not Fade Away

Sunday, June 01, 2008

television, the drug of the nation

I've been listening to this song lately in my car and I thought I'd share. The song is "Television, the drug of the nation" by the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy which lead vocals by Michael Franti. The song goes back at least to the early 90's but the lyrics are still pretty timely.

T.V. is the stomping ground
for political candidates
where bears in the woods
are chased by grecian formula'd bald eagles
where image takes precedence over wisdom
where sound bite politics are served
to the fastfood culture
where straight teeth in your mouth
are more important than the words
that come out of it
race baiting is the way to get elected
Willie Horton or will he not get elected on...

Televison, the drug of the nation