Three mini-posts

I did, unfortunately, end up watching most of the “debate” last night, giving up at about the 2/3 mark when it became clear that the Beast was not going to stroke out or have a heart attack while I was watching. It was every bit as horrible and depressing as everyone says it was; there simply should not be further debates while this person is in office. There’s no goddamn point. There have been some rumblings that the rules are going to change from the debate commission, but if they’ve provided any specifics I’ve not seen them yet. Basically unless the moderator has the power to cut microphones there’s no further point in entertaining the exercise any longer.

We missed the sadly predictable moment where he refused to condemn white supremacy. Which … no one should have been surprised. White supremacists, the Klan, and the Nazis are clearly his people, and there has been no reasonable doubt about that for quite some time. He’s not going to condemn them because he’s one of them. That’s all there is to it. And yes, you are a bad person if you continue to support him. It’s not up for debate.

I think it is still the case that I own every album-length release Public Enemy has put out, including their live album. I generally find out about them by accident now, though, and while it’s kind of depressing it’s been true for a while that the band’s best days are behind them. The fact that they continue to mine the well of songs from Yo! Bum Rush the Show and It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back after all these years is … well, it’s a choice, is what it is, and true to form this release has three or four different tracks that pull material from those two albums, plus a remake of Fight the Power with a bunch of new verses by non-PE rappers.

That said … I think I”m on my seventh or eighth listen already, and I just discovered it on Tuesday, so they’re doing something right. I mean, it’s PE. It’s Chuck D and Flavor Flav, despite the fact that Flav has been kicked out of the band at least seven or eight times by now. I’m enjoying it.

I got an email from Human Resources this afternoon, late enough in the day (no doubt on purpose) that there was no real point in asking for any clarification, informing me that my request for a length-of-the-pandemic e-learning job had been approved. (I assume it’s length of the pandemic. How long this job is slated to last was not mentioned, and honestly I can’t criticize them for not knowing.)

This rather portentous paragraph was in the message:

As we begin to start school back next week,  please be aware that your grade level, subject, or building designation could change based on the demand for eLearning in the school corporation.   We will continue to modify based on student attendance, eLearning requests, and building needs. 

Now, next week is the last week of the quarter, so my assumption is that I still have my current job next week. But I literally have no idea what they will have me doing the week after that. None at all. I mean, I’ll probably still end up teaching math in my current building, because seniority, but I have no idea.

And, I suspect, neither do they.

The pandemic started in March, y’all.

So that’s fun.

Mi dinero es su dinero

An insight into my personality:  if I happen to pop open the iTunes store, mostly because I’m curious as to whether a new episode of The Orville is available or not (the first one performed well above expectations, don’t @ me) and I happen to see this:


…and, upon investigating further, I discover that Prophets of Rage is the self-titled debut album of a group composed of Chuck D from Public Enemy, B-Real from Cypress Hill, and the motherfucking entirety of Rage Against the Machine, I will enter a fugue state, as follows:


…and upon recovering from said fugue state I will discover that I have bought not one but two albums on iTunes, with no conscious decision-making process of any kind evident at all– that I somehow managed to not only download the debut full-length album which launched this week but also the EP (which I also didn’t know existed) which came out last year sometime, but I won’t even remember looking for it– my money will just be gone and I will have new music on my various music-producing devices.

I will listen to them during my various trips back and forth to work this week, and I may or may not report back with a review.  But yeah.  That combination?  Shortcuts every mental defense I have against spending money and the shit just happens automatically.

Speaking of spending money: my new book, Tales: The Benevolence Archives, Vol. 3 is now available for pre-order on Amazon!  It’s just $2.99 and I think you should buy it right now so that I can afford more music.

#REVIEW: Public Enemy: Inside the Terrordome, by Tim Grierson

51ZdWPgD4KL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgYou may have noticed that while I talk about music and link to videos a fair amount around here (okay, more of the latter than the former, but still) I rarely do anything like an album review.  The reason is pretty simple: while I enjoy reading music reviews, I almost never have any idea what the hell any given music reviewer is talking about at any given time and I absolutely cannot replicate the format myself.  I can tell you why I liked or did not like a book.  I can definitely tell you why I liked or did not like a movie.  But the vocabulary of music reviews frequently eludes me completely; I’m inarticulate when talking about music in a way that I’m just not when discussing other subjects.  I could make a living as a movie reviewer.  I’d be fired after my first article if I tried to get a job at Rolling Stone, or wherever the hell people go to find music reviews nowadays.

Talk about music, though?  Talk about, oh, late eighties-early nineties hiphop?

All day, every day.  I think that it’s possible that my wife wouldn’t have married me had she realized my ability to turn any conversation into a short lecture about the history of hiphop.  She made the mistake of watching a VH1 special about the hundred greatest rap songs of all time with me once.  It was an experiment not repeated.

Tim Grierson wrote a book about Public Enemy, the greatest rap group of all time.  Now, interesting fact: it’s an unauthorized book, so he didn’t have direct access to anyone in the band other than Terminator X, who left the group a while back and who he appears to have exchanged emails with.  So he’s relying on a lot of third-party sources here, and tons of interviews that band members have done with other people or books that they’ve written themselves.  Ordinarily that’s a red flag that indicates some sort of nefarious agenda, but in this case I think the guy is remarkably even-handed other than the hilarious (and entirely appropriate) disdain he holds for everything Flavor Flav has done with his life in the last ten years or so.

Loosely described, the book devotes a chapter or so to each of PE’s albums, starting prior to the release of Yo! Bum Rush the Show in 1987 and ending with the “double album” release of Most of My Heroes Still Don’t Appear on No Stamp and The Evil Empire of Everything in 2012.  The book was released in February of this year, so there’s not much more recent stuff than that; it closes with the band’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which seems as good a place as any.  Along the way he discusses the group’s rise and fall fairly, documenting the period of time where PE ruled the world (It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, Fear of a Black Planet, and Apocalypse 91: The Enemy Strikes Black) but not skimping on everything that’s happened since.  PE’s released thirteen studio albums and a host of other stuff, too, and Chuck D, Flavor, and Terminator X all have solo albums as well, although Chuck’s last two solo albums (one of which may have come out too late to discuss) go unmentioned.  There’s a lot here, and I respect that the book doesn’t go quiet after the mess that was Muse Sick-N-Hour Mess Age in 1994.  In fact, the foreword directly calls out a bunch of other “authorized” PE books for doing just that– the band never saw remotely the level of success they had in the early nineties again, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t doing a lot of interesting shit.  Specifically, I like Grierson’s emphasis on Chuck D as an innovator, a guy who refuses to ever do the same thing twice, and I’m giving a lot of the latter albums another listen-through today to pick up on some of the details he discusses.

He also correctly assesses Rebirth of a Nation as the band’s best release since Apocalypse.  It was important for me that he get that right.  🙂

It should probably go without saying that I loved the book, devouring the thing whole in basically a day.  This is my shit here, y’all.  If I hadn’t liked the book, there’d probably still be a post about it tearing it to pieces.

You will probably hear a bit more about this book in a couple of weeks.  For now, go read it.


CArtist: Chuck D
Best Album: Apocalypse ’91: The Enemy Strikes Black
Best Song: Fight the Power
This Letter Could Have Been About: Chubb Rock, Common, Coolio, The Crest, Cunninlynguists

Why I’m Writing About This Artist: Because I’m cheating again; yesterday I used a group to represent the work of a single artist, and today I’m using a single artist to represent the work of a group: Public Enemy.  I said yesterday that no single person had had more of an effect on my development as a human being than KRS-ONE.  Still true.  But PE magnified and extended the influence that Boogie Down Productions had.  They are the greatest group in the history of hiphop for a very good reason.  If you haven’t been watching the videos, make sure to check this one out, and understand just how much PE terrified white people in the late eighties and early nineties.

Have a video!:

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Because I have to

It’s 9:15. I’m going to bed in the next hour or so, and I just wrote a post about heroes, and I can’t have this song in my head all damn night.