Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Gotta Give the Peeps What They Need. This is an interesting story to be filed under the miscellaneous category. You should all know that your humble blogger has been a fan of Public Enemy ever since he saw the video for "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos" on Yo! MTV Raps many many years ago (back in the good old days when it was hosted by Fab Five Freddy). Anyway, PE's latest album, "Revolverlution" hit the stores a couple of months ago, and it became a part of my CD collection very shortly thereafter. The first track, and also the first single, is called "Gotta Give the Peeps What They Need". It's an amazing song, and just barely edges out "Son of a Bush" for my favorite cut off the album. Anyway, MTV, in its infinite wisdom, has declined to play the video because it is "political". I don't know why, but MTV likes banning videos from my favorite artists. Who remembers the hoopla over Neil Young's "This Note's For You" several years back? Anyway, Chuck D, Public Enemy's powerful principle voice, is pretty ticked off about the whole situation. You might find his comments here to be pretty interesting.

What MTV objected to was the line "Free Mumia", which also appears visually in the video. Now, I don't want to weigh in on that thorny issue (being a Philadelphia area blogger, Mumia abu Jamal is a particularly sensitive subject). To be honest, I don't know enough about his whole situation to have an opinion. So please, no hate mail. But I do know that his conviction for mudering a police officer back when I was like four is still a very heated issue, and very controversial. I see no reason why MTV should feel the need to protect its viewers from controversial ideas. I suppose seeing "Son of a Bush" on MTV is equally out of the question, though so far as I know, no video has been made for that song.

Chuck makes some good points in his "Terrordome" post on the subject. It's thought-provoking, and I suggest you take a look. MTV as an entity has immense cultural power, and it has at several times throughout it's existence done a lot of good things vis a vis youth culture. It also has, as Joe Lieberman and Tipper Gore would probably agree, a tremendous downside. Chuck's beef is that by playing, supporting, and promoting senseless party music and banning intelligent political dissent, MTV skews its presentation of black musical culture. It's food for thought, and I tend to agree with him.

If you get a chance, check out "Revolverlution". As an album, it's a little uneven. It's made up of a mix between new tracks, old live tracks, and fan-produced re-mixes of old tracks. It isn't very cohesive, but it has more than a couple of gems in there.

Monday, October 14, 2002

Philly Sports Update. Well, football season is in full swing, and my home town team, the Philadelphia Eagles, just had a bye week, so it seems an apropos moment to assess their season so far. They've got a 3-2 record over the first five games, and are perched, so to speak, at the top of the NFC East. But, that's actually a pretty poor showing. In their first five games out, they've faced three dreadful teams and two mediocre teams. The mediocre teams beat them, and they pummelled the living crap out of the dreadful teams. After the break, the season starts getting interesting, and the Birds will have to step up big time if they want their perennially pessimistic fans to take them seriously.

The frustrating thing is that they've got a pretty darn good team this year. Their star quarterback, Donovan McNabb, has developed nicely, and he's a terrific weapon. He can throw, he can scramble, he can do scripted running plays, and he's tough. It's important that he's so tough, because opponents are always gunning for him, and the offensive line has been a bit sketchy so far. While McNabb is the teams only real superstar, the offense is peppered with threats. They've got a solid core of running backs, a couple of veterans and a nice looking up-and-comer. They've got a passable receiver squad, their running backs are also passing options, and there's always a tight-end to go to when the going gets rough. The offensive strategy is designed to keep defenses on their toes., With so many options, so many weapons, and a handful of colorful trick plays, it's difficult for a defense to anticpate what they're going to do (especially now that they're final getting what you might call a running game).

They're defense is also pretty good, though they've been a bit inconsistent so far. They've managed to be surprisingly stingy against the run, which was expected to be a big weakness for them this year, but they're giving still giving up too much against teams that actually bother to put an offense on the field.

All of this would make them a strong, play-off calibre, Super Bowl contending team, if not for the serious lack of discipline. Twice in their week five loss to Baltimore, the Eagles gave up the ball on a boneheaded penalty on a punt. There's nothing worse than having a defense which effectively stops the other team, only to have an offsides call on the punt give up a free first down, especially when it results in a touchdown. Also, the return coverage has been particularly vulnerable so far, giving away more free points. Against crappy teams, you can get away with this, but there aren't that many crappy teams left in the Eagles' schedule. It might be a maddening season.

As for the Flyers, they've only had two games, so it's a little early to say how they look. On the plus side, they are scoring goals, which was the big question mark following last year's humiliating performance down the stretch. But their number one goalie, Roman Cechmanek, doesn't look too sharp so far. My friend Tucker has already predicted that Roman will not start for the Flyers in the playoffs. Just what we need. In their season opener last Thursday, the Flyers blew a 2-0 lead in the third period to eventually skate to a 2-2 tie against the Edmonton Oilers. On Saturday, Roman let in 4 second period goals, digging the Flyers a 4-2 hole. They managed to come back, and, thanks to a Jeremy Roenick powerplay goal (on an admittedly terrible call), they pulled ahead 5-4 in the final minutes of the third period, securing (but not earning) their first win of the season against the Calgary Flames. The Flyers travel to Montreal tomorrow to face... umm... the team from Montreal. Oh, right, the Canadiens. On Thursday they'll play their home opener against the New York Islanders, who have been having some trouble so far.

Injuries are already plaguing the 76ers, and the season hasn't even started yet. We'll see how that goes. I'm not confident.

And, last time I checked, Philadelphia doesn't have a Major League Baseball team. So that rounds out the big four.