Wednesday, September 07, 2005

NBC Edit's Kanye West's Anti-Bush Comments - That's Not Right

Call me late to the party, but I just learned of Kanye West's "George Bush hates black people" comment while watching "The Big Idea with Donny Deutch." It was Deutch, who's a good friend of Russell Simmons, who revealed that NBC actually cut the West Coast feed from the show where West -- standing with Mike Myers of "Austin Powers" fame -- launched his tirade.

I wondered just what he said, so I cyberscrounged for some text. I found it in this account by Yahoo! News:

NEW YORK - A celebrity telethon for Hurricane Katrina survivors took an unexpected turn when outspoken rapper Kanye West went off script during the live broadcast, declaring America is set up "to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off as slow as possible."


"A Concert for Hurricane Relief," which aired on NBC and other networks Friday night, began, fittingly enough, with jazz from New Orleans natives Harry Connick Jr. and Wynton Marsalis.

The host was NBC News' Matt Lauer, who invited viewers to contribute to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund by phone or on the Web. Some 18 presenters performed musical numbers or gave information on the tragedy's huge scope.

Since the hurricane, people have displayed a massive outpouring of charity. Total donations passed the $200 million mark by Friday, four days after the storm slammed into the Gulf Coast. The bulk of those funds were collected by the Red Cross, which said it has raised $196.9 million from individuals and corporations.

Appearing two-thirds through the program, West took the government to task, claiming " George Bush doesn't care about black people."

Comedian Mike Myers was paired with West for a 90-second segment that began with Myers speaking of Katrina's devastation. Then, to Myers' evident surprise, West began a rant by saying, "I hate the way they portray us in the media. If you see a black family, it says they're looting. See a white family, it says they're looking for food."

While allowing that "the Red Cross is doing everything they can," West — who delivered an emotional outburst at the American Music Awards after he was snubbed for an award — declared that government authorities are intentionally dragging their feet on aid to the Gulf Coast. Without getting specific, he added, "They've given them permission to go down and shoot us."

After he stated, "George Bush doesn't care about black people," the camera cut away to comedian Chris Tucker.

Concluding the hour a few minutes later, Lauer noted that "emotions in this country right now are running very high. Sometimes that emotion is translated into inspiration, sometimes into criticism. We've heard some of that tonight. But it's still part of the American way of life."

In a statement, NBC said, "Kanye West departed from the scripted comments that were prepared for him, and his opinions in no way represent the views of the networks.

"It would be most unfortunate," the statement continued, "if the efforts of the artists who participated tonight and the generosity of millions of Americans who are helping those in need are overshadowed by one person's opinion."

The show, simulcast from New York on NBC, MSNBC, CNBC and Pax, was aired live to the East Coast, enabling the Grammy-winning rapper's outburst to go out uncensored. West's comment about the president was cut from NBC's West Coast airing, which showed three hours later on tape.

There was a several-second tape delay, but the person in charge "was instructed to listen for a curse word, and didn't realize (West) had gone off-script," NBC spokeswoman Rebecca Marks added.


Is West correct? Well, it's certainly true that Bush has thumbed his nose at the NAACP -- the recognized civil rights organization for African Americans -- more than once by not attending their convention. I could go on and add that Bush essentially tried to set up Secretary of State Colin Powell to fail, thereby taking down the most powerful African American in the Republican Party (or trying to). But instead, I'm going to simply observe that West's ability to be a position to make such a statement is in itself light-years beyond where African Americans were when I was a little boy in the 60s.

Thus, we're moving into a fascinating and confusing time in American Culture. Now, there are several center of power and divided by age, race, and sex. Moreover, the group that West addresses -- young blacks like me -- are increasingly part of an interracial power structure that's growing. It's enemy is the older intra-racial power structure that's almost enterely white.

George Bush is widely viewed as part of the "old guard" structure, so from that narrow point of view, West may have a very good point.

But I'd like to know that NBC's not going to do that again. That was -- or should be -- illegal to do.

Only 39 Percent Polled Gave Aid to Katrina Victims

Click on the title of this post to see the poll. This is an outrage. I'm not surprised over the anger with the government, but the government is us. If only 39 percent of us gave -- I did -- it's no wonder we have a system that can't help people. We can't ask our government to do it, if we're not going to ourselves. Come on America -- dig deep and donate! Let's get this number up to 70 percent!

I need a Vector Animation Specialist

If you understand how to make animated representations of characters and buildings (like stadiums) on the web for online games, please contact me ASAP. If you have a website, share the address with me. I can't go into detail here!

The Progress of My Friend Jody

I have to share this with you all, as my friend Jody May gets ready for her participation in the "Nationals" in Atlanta later this year. She's a terrifically lovely woman with a kind heart. I wish the best for her. More on that later, but here's what she looks like, now:

My friends ask me why I like this kind of look, and I can't explain it except to say that it's been with me since I was old enough to realize I was attracted to this kind of woman. (Which was when I was nine years old and had the "hots" for a girl named Debbie who lived in the same townhouse we did in Chicago.) I also have always had an affinity for the way Robert Crumb -- "R. Crumb" -- draws women in his comics and cartoons. They have muscle and shape -- not skinny mini at all. (Oh, geez, nothing against the "thin" practiced by some of my women friends. You look terrific! Besides, it's not just the outside, it's the inside.)

But Jody's my friend and that's because she's just a good person. For me, it doesn't matter how great the woman looks, if she's not warm of heart, her outer beauty is diminished.

All of that aside, Jody -- in my view as a friend -- is at a major juncture in her life. I think bodybuiilding -- given its nature -- should be considered a stepping stone to something else. In Jody's case, I think she can be a terrific spokesperson for products and services. NO -- not one of those models than stands next to a car. I'm thinking more along the lines of commercials and ads. I think she's got a healthy and tight look that -- in a body-concious America -- can really sell. She can apply this to the medical industry to start, as that's her occupational home.

Beyond that, I think she can make a hellofa politician. She should run for some kind of office in Odessa to start.

My personal concern is that she listen to advice and get help from people who really are in her corner. I guess a large part of me sees her as kind of -- well, so "well-meaning" and trusting, that she can open herself to the wrong people. In that way, she's a lot like me! (LOL) I think that's why I kind of worry about her, and I shouldn't do that. But it's the way I am.

I'd like to see her develop a huge national network of successful friends -- women and men, but mostly women because it's good to have a connection with other successful women -- who really share their contacts wiithout some inner desire to "take" from Jody. There are a lot of people out there. I have such a small group of people I know, like my buddy Beth Schnitzer (an awesome person who will also make a great elected official). It takes time and determination and focus -- on building these relationships.

Bob Denver - Another Signpost in The Zeitgeist Passes On

I know I'm getting to the point of middle age, when this happens: Bob Denver, star of Gilligan's Island, passed away last week. I grew up watching the syndicated re-runs of Gilligan's Island, and fell totally in love with Dawn Wells (who played Mary Ann and marked the first time I realized I prefered brunettes to blondes!) and those terrific legs of hers.

But I always felt sorry for Denver's character. I always rooted for him. In retrospect, it was because even though he made mistakes, he had a good heart. Denver communicated that aspect of Gilligan very well.

I have to admit, that there's a weird feeling with all of these signposts passing. I think I need to create a kind of "rolling list" of people who "mark" our culture at a moment in time.