Archive for the ‘Special Reviews as in Exclusive but NOT Retarded’ category

The 9/11/10 Ground Zero Mosque Protest – Protest Review

September 14, 2010

This Woman Supported the Mosque Until She Discovered it Wasn't a 1994 Jim Carrey Film.

I think everyone remembers where they were on the 9th anniversary of 9/11, mainly because it was a mere three days ago. While the original 9/11 was debatably the day that dictated a decade and defined a generation, last Saturday was a much more divisive deceitful affair rooted in distasteful destruction and disrespectful dismissals. Of course, that’s just one man’s perspective. How do I know? Because that one man…was ME! Yes, with all the hoopla over the potential Islamic Cultural Center or, as it’s inaccurately known, the “Ground Zero Mosque,” heating up cable television around the clock, I decided to interject myself right into the thick of things and experience the insanity first hand. Oh, and did I mention I brought my camera? Well, I did, and here’s a glimpse into just another day in New York City:

Those are the final moments of the protest. This was taken at the site of the Pro-Mosque Rally after the Anti-Mosque Rally was forced to disband by police, so the Anti-Mosque Rally’s most vocal participants (still looking for clouds to yell at) decided to crash the party and engage in a debate series of loud angry noises in-between other progressively louder angrier noises. Both sides of the issue seem to be engaging in some Pantaphysics-based call-and-response where the rebuttals have no regard for lack the slightest hint of acknowledging whatever it is they’re responding to. You’ll notice one gentleman seems to believe the whole fandango was a masterminded coup to embarrass Donald Trump.

I like to keep this site as apolitical as possible since we all know new-millennium Politics + Hip-Hop = BOR-ING, but as an objective viewer and lover of the absurd, this just had to be commented on. One thing that strikes me about the whole controversy is how transparently racist the whole shebang is. If you really listen to the Anti-Mosque Brigade, you never once hear the phrase “radical Islam.” Instead, they refer to the actions of a select few fundamentalists as “the middle east.” What also gets me is that, if the more vocal proponents in the press are anything to go by, the same sect who demand the Ten Commandments be posted in public schools. That’s not to say I’m likening the “Ground Zero Mosque” to the separation of Church-and-State, rather I question the justification of fighting for a religious presence in a government-regulated building while denying the right of freedom of religion to the independent individual enterprise that makes America great.

What it all boils down to is that this was a protest against Islam and Muslims in general. The well-documented actions of Saturday, including protesters dressing up like the Dutch Mohammad cartoon and burning the Koran/Qur’an/Harmony Korine, isn’t so much saying “I don’t want a House of Islam that close to a location where a horrible act was carried out by a very minuscule radical offshoot of it” but “I want Muslims to know that they are not welcome here, and I do not respect them.” Did it not cross their mind that perhaps there are some Muslims in New York City who *gasp* might be on the same side that they are?

I was in Minnesota when the story broke, and after spending time there and in North Carolina, I’ve noticed there’s been a great deal of inaccurate reporting on it. For one, the “Mosque” ISN’T IN GROUND ZERO. I think what’s confused a lot of people is that when the original rebuilding of the World Trade Center in 2006 began, there was a non-denominational prayer center in the middle of it. That plan was scrapped and construction was ceased/demolished, as well as another time, making this next rebuilding effort the THIRD ATTEMPT to fill that wound left nine years ago. But I degrassi, the “Mosque” is roughly TWO AVENUE BLOCKS AWAY! It takes over 15 minutes to walk there from Ground Zero, and is really nowhere near it. If people are really concerned with the desecration of a sacred place, why isn’t there more of an effort to rid the area of the subhuman scum who sell 8 X 10″ glossy photos of the towers exploding or commemorative “Never Forget” T-Shirt and plate sets? Or how about using this angry energy to help the immediate on-site volunteers who still need medical help?

While the protest did have a dedicated and vocal turnout, no real dialogue was started. Oh, there were words exchanged from different parties, but there were merely a series of monologues that occasionally intersected each other. While things didn’t escalate into violence, they often felt like they were about to. If a statement was made, it’s that people disagree on an issue and love to relish in it in front of a crowd. While they have gotten some attention, they really haven’t done anything with it. This protest was basically a 2000s mixtape rappers career in a day.

We Give The 9/11/10 Ground Zero Mosque Protest a Two Out of Five

So until next time…let’s agree to agree!

Drake’s Letter to Aaliyah – Letter Review

August 31, 2010

I know way too many people here right now who had songs on the Dr. Dolittle soundtrack. What am I doing?

Last week marks nine years since the death of sultry songstress Aaliyah. Moved by her body of work in life and in the years following her death, rapper Drake (AKA “Wheelchair Jimmy”) publicly expressed how much the singer meant to him in a way that touched some and offended others. He writes:

Dear Dana,

I’ve never lost a parent, a friend, or a lover but I will never forget this day for the rest of my life. I remember getting the news that you had passed and it connected with my heart like a clean shot from Muhammad Ali. I was crushed. Not only was I one of your biggest fans but I was truly in love with you. I loved the way you carried yourself, the way you dressed, the confidence with which you addressed passion and relationships in your music. I said to myself that even if we never met, I wanted a woman in my life just like you. I am pained that we will never get to connect now that music ended up being my career path. But you should know, we all listen to you everyday and we remain inspired and moved by all that you’ve given the world. I hope I make the right life choices so I can end up in heaven where I know you rest your head. I’ll continue to make music in your honor until the day we finally meet. Dinner’s on me!

Love you always and forever,

Drake

Right off the bat he addresses the the R&B Princess posthumously by her middle name ‘Dana.’ Now remember that this kid never met Aaliyah once during his life, and was all of 14-years-old when she died, but feels intimate enough with her to address her by a name that she was never once referred to by any public figure. Balls. He goes on to express that he’s never had to deal with the concept or reality of death at any point in his life, so we might as well be reading Drake’s letter about his time playing water polo with dinosaurs in space. Yes, the death of a celebrity he’s never had any interaction with or connection to is the absolute worst thing to ever happen to Drake in his life, and he’s about to tell us about it.

Or is he?

The next line, where Drake actually uses the word “like” in a simile, suggests someone else may have written it for him. If you’ve ever heard a Drake song, you know he’s somehow incapable of using this word and instead substitutes it with a dramatic pause. (SIMULATED DRAKE LYRIC: “Haters be all up in my ass (dramatic pause) colon / they need to get up off my dick (dramatic pause) foreskin”) Lucky for us, we’re soon reassured Drake’s holding the pen by his hyperbolic high-school heart hemorrhaging the sentence “I was truly in love with you.” At the risk of sounding cheesy, Drake fell for the girl on TV. He then states how his inner-turmoil for never having an Aaliyah to his own is compounded now that’s he’s wound up in the music industry. This is followed by him adding a royal touch by suddenly jumping to the first-person plural perspective, stating “we all listen to you everyday and we remain inspired and moved by all that you’ve given the world.” I know age ain’t nothin’ but a number, but I’m pretty sure most would agree that numbers are, in fact, numbers. So either Drake is suggesting both he and Aaliyah’s ghost are still listening, inspired and moved by HER OWN MUSIC or he’s returning to the writing device that can now only be referred to as “Drakeperbole.”

Aren't you that somebody from the wheelchair from that kids' show?

The letter closes by proving Drake really thinks he’s (that?) somebody. He states with no real certainty or confidence that he hopes he “made the right life choices” so that he could end up in a lower-case “heaven” (must be the generic off-brand afterlife) where he knows she is. He then dedicates the rest of his career to her and asks her, CEO Dame Dash’s dead fiancee, to dinner. Again, balls. Not only does Drake believe that when he’s truly so far gone he’ll wind up somewhere that isn’t a proper noun BUT it’s a place where even despite his celebrity he’s expected to pay for food.

Best I Never Met.

While the sentiment is strong, the numerous errors and overindulgence within the letter really takes away from any beyond-the-grave quality or impact it might have. Furthermore, it’s troubling that this letter is eerily similar to one I wrote to early 20th-century bluesman Blind Willie McTell earlier this year:

Dear Bill,

I’ve never lost a parent, but I have lost grandparents, close friends, a choir teacher, a gerbil, a hamster, and a beta fish. Still, I will never forget the day I found out you died twenty-six years before I was born. I remember getting the news that you had been very dead for a long time and it burned me like a George Foreman Grill. I was smushed. Not only was I one of your biggest fans but I would use your name as an inarguable trump card when hooking up with guitar-enthusiast music snob girls in college. I loved the way you carried yourself, the way you dressed, the confidence with which you addressed beating your triflin’ woman in your music. I said to myself that even if we never met, I wanted a woman in my life to know her southern can belonged to me. I am pained that we will never get to connect now that music ended up being what I’ve convinced my former high school classmates I’m doing with my life. But you should know, we all listen to you everyday and we remain inspired and moved by all that you’ve given the world. I hope I make the right life choices so I can end up with you where the good lord sends women down. I’ll continue to make music in your honor until the day we finally meet. Hope you like Taco Bell!

Yours in dated misogyny,

Chaz

We give Drake’s Letter to Aaliyah a Two out of Five

So until next time…let’s agree to agree!

Wrestlers on the Arsenio Hall Show!

August 17, 2010

Do Hard-hitting Journalists Hit Hard?

As I’ve mentioned before on this site, I have a certain love for the sheer absurdity of professional wrestling. Nowhere else on television can you see such a blatant disregard for taste and logic in hopes of entertainment. The, for lack of a better word, “culture” of wrestling really exists within its own self-contained vacuum. While the cat is out of the bag today in regard to wrestling being fakey-playfighting, there was once a time when making the media rounds to promote an event had to pussyfoot around the squared-circle showcasing legit athletic competition with real conflict and drama. This is all well and good when you have someone like Hulk Hogan, an overly friendly bodybuilder, or Randy Savage, a…um…cowboy/cokehead/jerked meat enthusiast(?), to banter with, but what about wrestling’s less subtle characters? Chances are, these worlds will abruptly collide and it won’t be pretty. Lucky for us, the early 90s had Arsenio Hall to act as our avatar to the wacky world of ‘rasslin’ and ask the burning questions on everybody’s mind.

BAD NEWS BROWN

For those who don’t remember, Bad News Brown was a bad dude from Harlem whose finisher was known as the “Ghetto Blaster.” He was as nasty and brackish as they came, so imagine the captivated nation when it seemed, during his feud with Jake Roberts, that Brown might suffer from Ophidiophobia? Hall’s pre-interview giggle is only the tip of the Awesomeberg.

‘RAVISHING’ RICK RUDE

The late Rick Rude, joined by his manager and my journalism professor Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan, didn’t really get along with Arsenio. While barbs were traded back-and-forth, the real highlight of the clip is the end where Rude does arguably the most accurate Arsenio Hall impression ever televised. Yes, that aired.

THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR

There’s two things Americans love: loud yelling and very fast violence. In the early 90s, there was no better source of testosterone to give the public what they wanted than obnoxious queer-hater The Ultimate Warrior. There are no words.

We give Wrestlers on Arsenio Hall a Four Out of Five

So until next time…let’s agree to agree!

Silent Witness: the Untold Story of Terri Schiavo’s Death – Book Review

July 27, 2010

CAN I GET A 'WITNESS?'

This morning, while visiting home, I decided to accompany my Mother on her trip to her car dealership in order to repair a broken taillight. While in the customer lounge, I decided to check out the inaptly named “Dealership Library” that had over fifteen (15) books to choose from. Many of these were histories of Minnesota, odes to old people, fishing explorations, etc. Yet, one book called out to me. On top of a pile of World War I history books was Silent Witness: the Untold Story of Terri Schiavo’s Death by Mark Fuhrman. You might remember him as the N-bomb dropping detective of the OJ Simpson trial who was convicted of perjury. What you may not remember is that, following his felony, he wrote the national bestseller Murder in Brentwood, which aimed to clear his name regarding fabricating evidence during the trial and made the case Simpson was guilty. He followed-up a few years later with Murder in Greenwich a book explaining his theory that Ethel Kennedy’s nephew Michael Skakel was behind the then-unsolved 1975 murder of 15-year-old Kennedy family member Martha Moxley. With Skakel’s successful conviction four years later, Fuhrman returned with the less accusatory Death and Justice where he, as a former Capital Punishment advocate, made the case for our justice system being far too (as he put it) “flimsy” to allow such final judgment. This recent turn set the stage for him to make his definitive “life > death” opus, and six-months later he found his muse in the form of a braindead bodydead Terri Schiavo. I had to read.

In under 300 pages, Fuhrman makes the case that not only was Schiavo cognoscente at the time of her death, but she was on the path to telling us the identity of her real m-m-m-murderer…her husband Michael Schiavo! The thing you need to remember about Silent Witness is that it came out literally three months after she died, so not only have many of his claims been disproved, but the entire affair reads rushed, even by courthouse cash-in standards. This is a book where, no less than one chapter in, we’re greeted with sentences like “After four days being deprived of food and hydration, Terri is described by her father as appearing lethargic and stressed.” And it only gets worse.

Reading Silent Witness made me feel dirty, and not in the way Fuhrman would like. It’s crash journalism at its absolute worst as he tries to fear-monger the reader into believing our country as a whole is complacent in letting Michael Schiavo force a woman to starve to death in the public eye. While Chapter 12 Possible Scenarios concludes with Fuhrman stating that while he doesn’t particularly like Mr. Schiavo, it doesn’t necessarily mean he killed his wife, he spends the book’s other 271 pages on a non-stop smear campaign against the man. We learn he proposed to Terri after only their second date, would have pissing contests (in the most literal sense) with the male members of his family in front of her, was often unemployed, was merely a McDonald’s manager while Terri was racking up the big bucks at Prudential, *may* have once asked Terri to change her hair color, and (according to Terri’s unbiased parents, the Schlinders) was prone to argue. Fuhrman isn’t merely grabbing at straws here, he’s driving a haunted hayride. With the cause of Terri’s initial collapse on February, 25 1990 still unknown, we’re given the slight discrepancies in three instances of Michael’s recounting the events (Did he get out of bed right away? Did he call 911 right when he saw her, or after he sat down?) as proof he’s a liar and possible murderer. Fuhrman writes “the reason he has so much trouble keeping his story straight is that it’s based on a falsehood necessitated by guilt.” In the aforementioned Possible Scenarios chapter, Fuhrman claims the reason there were no signs of a struggle in her oxygen deprevation is because Michael put her in the throat-avoiding “Million Dollar Dream” sleeperhold before leaving her face down on the ground until he was certain she would be brain damaged enough to obtain her (Chapter 7′s namesake) Money, Sex and Power.

MURDARAH?!?!?!

It’s a disgusting book on several levels. While Schiavo’s potassium issues would maybe warrant a look into the possibility that she was bulimic, Fuhrman (I’m not making this up) often bases his theories on that, at the time of collapse, she had “a very bad yeast infection.” Surely when Sean Hannity asked him to write this book, he wasn’t anticipating a tabloid-esqe “Schiavo Fiasco: The Home Game!” Even beyond these frequent lapses of anything resembling good taste, Fuhrman’s writing is some mad scientist’s pretentious-juvenile frankenstyle hybrid. After stating that Michael doesn’t remember what he and his wife were fighting about the day before the accident, he actually wrote “I would find this highly coincidental. If I believed in coincidences.” Not only is the second sentence not even a complete thought, but an actual detective is casting doubt on the existence of “coincidences.” Not “fate,” not “divine intervention,” no Fuhrman is denying a concrete concept that can be proven an infinite number of times in favor of sounding like a Fox News-syndicated episode of The O.C. Silent Witness is an atrocious testament to scapegoat poaching human greed and despite numerous unintentionally hilarious moments, makes a poor addition to any car dealership’s library.

We give Silent Witness: the Untold Story of Terri Schiavo’s Death a One out of Five.

So until next time…let’s agree to agree.

Tuesday – Day Review

July 13, 2010

All heads on the rise, you better recognize.

So if you didn’t get the memo that I haven’t sent out yet, PopularOpinions is changing a bit. Instead of being a Monday-Wednesday-Friday affair, we’re moving to Tuesdays and Thursdays. Yes, the week’s twin tower alliance of alliteration will now be home to my endlessly fascinating and always topical thoughts on fast food abominations, twenty-year-old failed cartoon pilots and holidays. Is this move because I’m getting lazy? Is it because two is less than three and it makes it less of a commitment? Fear not dear reader, I can assure you this reformatting can solely be attributed to my selling-out and utter love of money. My stock has risen significantly over the past two months, so what better way to thank you loyal readers for getting me there than changing everything you’ve come to expect and enjoy from this site and turning it on its ear. That in mind, let’s take a look at our new home with a look at Tuesday.

Tuesday is probably best known as the set day for important events that aren’t cool enough to happen on the weekend. From election days to CD and DVD release dates (remember those?) it was the day for media milestones that ensured no hangover or verging vacations could distract from what they had to offer. They would either rock your world with change or shock your world with disappointment. But even with the rare political event or the flood of new releases on “super tuesdays” (usually the final tuesdays in May and November when the music industry would attempt the 1-2-3-4-5-punch combo of dropping several hot holiday/summer releases at once) Tuesday was largely the uneventful fence-sitting stepchild of the calendar week.

The day we honor John the Baptist.

By following the dreaded buzzkiller known as Monday, Tuesday’s never really had a hard act to follow. No-one has ever remarked “someone’s got a case of the Tuesdays.” Yet, instead of playing in its favor to make it a better day, Tuesday just slags all of its issues on disillusionment from a mere 24 hours ago. I recall Geometry teacher and football coach Adam Kowles once remarking “at least with Mondays you have some of that residual sleep from the weekend. Tuesdays are torture” and he’s right. With Tuesday you’re one more day removed from last weekend, and still three days away from the next one. BOR-ING! And did I mentioned 9/11 HAPPENED ON A TUESDAY?! Don’t believe me? Ask Melissa Etheridge after seven cans of Surge -

But Tuesday is also the namesake day of Jhumpa Lahiri’s 2003 novel The Namesake beloved chain restaurant Ruby Tuesdays. If you really wanted to make that third date with your midwestern high school sweetheart something she’ll remember for years to come, you could always trust RT‘s to supply the steak kabobs of legends in between the 7:15 screening of the Freddie Prinze Jr. vehicle Summer Catch and a night of mini-golf and lazer tag at Lava Links. Then, as Sixpence None the Richer plays over the mall sound-system*, you make your way over to the photobooth and test the buzz to see if the magic you have will last a lunchtime. If not, you know you’re going to run into her on a Tuesday and it’s going to be super awkward. I believe Scott Jerry Hall’s ex-husband’s band wrote a song about just such an encounter.

Still, when the monumental Tuesdays throw down, it’s hard to deny the awesomeness. Remember when Barack Obama got elected? Or when Hello Nasty came out? Moments like these when Tuesday decides to get its stuff together are when the day works. As awesome as things like Mardi Gras are, John the Baptist’s designated day is often, as composer Karlheinz Stockhausen described it in his opera Licht, a cube of electronic mimes around anyone who bothers to pay it attention. It’s an ordinary day with extraordinary potential it only occationally lives up to.

We give Tuesday a Three Out of Five.

So until next time…let’s agree to agree!

*It’s gonna bring you back up. Yeah, the one thing that you can depend on.


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