Monday, March 12, 2007

Atlanta's MARTA Buses Glow In The Dark To Sell Ads

MARTA an innovator in advertising
Newest creation: Bus wraps that glow in the dark

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 03/13/07

One of the most aggressive advertising innovators in metro Atlanta isn't a Fortune 500 company or a scrappy Internet upstart. It's MARTA, the regional transit system, which is selling space on its buses, trains and rail stations with the gusto of a NASCAR racing team.

Ads are shown on video screens hanging from rail platforms and on televisions bolted inside buses and rail cars. Buses and trains have been wrapped to create rolling billboards touting everything from new condominium towers to bail bondsmen. The transit system was the first in the nation to place ads inside subway tunnels in a way that creates short moving pictures for riders in passing trains.

MARTA has wrapped buses and trains to create rolling billboards touting everything from new condominium towers to bail bondsmen.

John Spink/Staff
Advertising produces about $5 million in annual revenue for MARTA, a small percentage of its $324 million operating budget, but its marketing director thinks itÕs an area poised to grow.

This month, MARTA is pushing the envelope again, becoming the first to wrap buses in ads made from a special material that glows in the dark.

Glowing buses? Subway movies? TVs on trains? Welcome to advertising, 21st century style.

Companies are finding they must try new marketing techniques to stand out in today's ad-saturated world, said Ken Bern-

hardt, a marketing professor at Georgia State University.

"The key is how do you get noticed, and doing nontraditional things is a very effective way to get noticed," he said.

Marketers say MARTA is a good vehicle for companies because the transit system's ridership skews young, the most coveted demographic for advertisers. And the 100,000 to 120,000 passengers who ride the system each day are a captive audience, with time to kill whether waiting for a train or riding on a bus.

Of course, MARTA isn't the only nontraditional place ads are showing up. They're being beamed onto TV screens mounted in elevators, posted above urinals in bathrooms and, increasingly, disguised as e-mails from friends and colleagues.

But in MARTA, marketers have found an eager participant in the new advertising game. Until recently, the transit system has been struggling to make ends meet and desperate for new revenue streams. The economic downturn after the Sept. 11 attacks eroded MARTA's primary income stream, sales tax collections, and pushed the system to think outside the box.

Unlike most transit systems, MARTA gets no operating money from the state. Advertising brings in about $5 million a year for MARTA, a relatively small percentage of the transit system's $324 million operating budget. But it's an area poised to grow, said Tony Griffin, MARTA's director of marketing.

"The revenue hasn't been what we hoped it would be, but we hope down the road we've opened up a nice revenue source for the future," Griffin said.

MARTA was the nation's first transit system to put television screens in rail cars, and remains the only system with electronic signs in all rail stations.

"MARTA is a leader in terms of trying stuff," said Wendell Reilly, CEO of Atlanta-based SignPost Networks, which is paying MARTA about $144,000 a year to hang digital display screens throughout the rail system.

MARTA doesn't sell ads, leaving that work to advertising and media companies who pay the transit system for the right to wrap buses and place video screens on trains and in rail stations. MARTA doesn't pay for the equipment but does receive a percentage of ad sales.

Griffin stresses that the video and TV screens do much more than show ads.

The rail station monitors, for instance, provide riders with a steady stream of news, from sports scores to local headlines, sandwiched between short ad spots. At the bottom of the screen, a new feature counts down the minutes until the next train arrives. The bus TVs air local news reports, entertainment programs and MARTA news.

Sidney Daniels, 48, a regular MARTA bus rider, said he likes the feature.

"It's entertainment," he said. "It's convenient to everybody."

Advertising on MARTA has worked well for one small Atlanta company, Free at Last bail bonds, which has been putting its logo on MARTA buses since November 2005.

Business has gone up, prompting the company to sign a second yearlong contract. About half of Free at Last's marketing budget is now spent on MARTA bus ads, said Jennifer Greene-Dallam, the company's CEO.

The ads are successful because it takes little effort to watch a bus rolling by, she said.

"The Yellow Pages, you have to actually open the book," she said. "Hopefully, you've seen our bus running on the streets. It's brand recognition."

Until the 1990s, MARTA took a restrained approach to advertising. Buses completely wrapped in ads didn't become common until just before the 1996 Summer Olympics.

MARTA's advertising thirst does have limits. MARTA has no plans to sell naming rights for a rail station. Liquor ads are not permitted, either.

The subway tunnel ads remain a pilot project. No plans are in the works to make the ads a permanent part of MARTA's arsenal, officials said. The lone subway ad in place, for Lexus, is scheduled to be removed within three months.

At least one MARTA board member, the Rev. Walter Kimbrough, says he'd like to see the system stop wrapping buses.

"If you see a MARTA bus that is wrapped, you don't really know that it's a MARTA bus," he said, noting that suburban bus systems have begun running in downtown and Midtown in recent years. "There will be markings on it, but you really have to look for that. And the uniformity is gone."

Reilly, the SignPost CEO, says the 145 digital screens he's installed in MARTA rail stations reach about 300,000 individual viewers each week — a figure measured by Arbitron, the same agency that monitors radio station listenership. If SignPost was a radio station, Reilly boasts it would rank among the top 10 in metro Atlanta.

To attract viewers, SignPost broadcasts news and information in 10-minute loops and developed the "next train" feature, what Reilly calls his "killer app." Short ads are shown every 10 to 20 minutes. The information's providers include CNN, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Reuters. SignPost gets the information free, while the content providers are able to spread their brand name to MARTA riders.

"What we're trying to do is give the MARTA rider the same thing that the automobile rider has, which is a radio," Reilly said. "It's visual radio."

YouTube - Did-It's Mr. Mark Simon Presents Copyright Problems As End-All; They're Not - "The Rules Of Industry Dynamics"

I just read a post on "Search Insider" -- a blog presented by MediaWeek -- which proves once again just how little many, even some of those who are in search engine marketing, understand how YouTube's used, let alone what its advantages are.

For evidence, I present the blog of one Mark Simon, the VP of Industry Relations at Did-It in New York City. He had the never to try to make a jump from stating that Google may be harmed by the growing Social Networking wave, to the now tired idea that YouTube, which is owned by Google, will fall on its sword because of copywrite problems. Implying that YouTube's content is not original.

As I explained in the response to his blog, his argument is not logical because YouTube has a great deal of original content. Mr. Simon writes "By providing the capability to easily search for copyrighted material, YouTube --which is to say, Google -- makes YouTube a more effective hosting service for pirated content, even if it conducts that hosting against its will. That opens Google up to copyright complaints...For media sites like Yahoo and MSN, which have large amounts of unique content, these problems are far less serious. First, their unique content creates other avenues of monetization, should copyright issues ever threaten a part of their search business."

That's one of the most ridiculous statements I've ever read. YouTube has a milions of video clips that are original, from Renetto, to LonelyGirl, to Kate On Sports, the list goes on and on. This -- Mr. Simon's article -- is yet another expression of East-Coast misunderstanding of, and lack of respect for, the growing video distribution industry, of which YouTube is the current leader. This is a constant song -- so common I liken it to the old desire that California fall into the Pacific Ocean.

YouTube's located in San Bruno, California, in the San Francisco / Oakland / San Jose Bay Area -- ok, the Bay Area but I did that for those who don't know what it is.

Mr. Simon, here are some basic rules of industry dynamics I want you to pay attention to:

1) The video distribution industry will grow in indirect proportion to the ease of use of video recording devices, their decrease in price, and the ease of use of systems to upload material they produce.
2) "Dynamics Rule One" will continue the reduction in the "barrier to entry" for those who want to make video shows.
3) The combination of Dynamics Rules One and Two will maintain a constant demand for and production of original content on all of the 77 "YouTube-type" video distribution portals.

Given those rules, you're absolutely wrong regarding Google / YouTube, but I enjoyed reading your take nonetheless.

Google - Who Do They Use For Transit? Bauer's Worldwide Transportation

Bauer's Worldwide Transportation , which helped me in my effort to bring the Super Bowl to Oakland, has only grown., offering Hybrid Cars and stretch Lincolns, taking over the "Pure Rush" party brand. The firm, ran by Founder and President Gary Bauer, is now responsible for shuttling Google's employees too and fro. Here's the NY Times article:

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — The perks of working at Google are the envy of Silicon Valley. Unlimited amounts of free chef-prepared food at all times of day. A climbing wall, a volleyball court and two lap pools. On-site car washes, oil changes and haircuts, not to mention free doctor checkups.

Stephen Weis, a software engineer for Google, uses the company’s shuttle bus service. Bicycles can be stored on exterior racks.

But the biggest perk may come with the morning commute.

In Silicon Valley, a region known for some of the worst traffic in the nation, Google, the Internet search engine giant and online advertising behemoth, has turned itself into Google, the mass transit operator. Its aim is to make commuting painless for its pampered workers — and keep attracting new recruits in a notoriously competitive market for top engineering talent.

And Google can get a couple of extra hours of work out of employees who would otherwise be behind the wheel of a car.

The company now ferries about 1,200 employees to and from Google daily — nearly one-fourth of its local work force — aboard 32 shuttle buses equipped with comfortable leather seats and wireless Internet access. Bicycles are allowed on exterior racks, and dogs on forward seats, or on their owners’ laps if the buses run full.

Riders can sign up to receive alerts on their computers and cellphones when buses run late. They also get to burnish their green credentials, not just for ditching their cars, but because all Google shuttles run on biodiesel. Oh, and the shuttles are free.

But if the specifics sound quintessentially Googley, as insiders call the company’s quirky corporate culture, it is the shuttle program’s sheer scale that befits Google’s oversize ambitions. This is, after all, a company whose stated goal is to organize the world’s information — and whose founders’ corporate jet is a Boeing 767.

“We are basically running a small municipal transit agency,” said Marty Lev, Google’s director of security and safety, who oversees the program.

Not that small, really. The shuttles, which carry up to 37 passengers each and display no sign suggesting they carry Googlers, have become a fixture of local freeways. They run 132 trips every day to some 40 pickup and drop-off locations in more than a dozen cities, crisscrossing six counties in the San Francisco Bay Area and logging some 4,400 miles.

They pick up workers as far away as Concord, 54 miles northeast of the Googleplex, as the company’s sprawling Mountain View headquarters are known, and Santa Cruz, 38 miles to the south. The system’s routes cover in excess of 230 miles of freeways, more than twice the extent of the region’s BART commuter train system, which has 104 miles of tracks.

Morning service starts on some routes at 5:05 a.m. — sometimes carrying those Google chefs — and the last pickup is at 10:40 a.m. Evening service runs from 3:40 p.m. to 10:05 p.m. During peak times, pickups can be as frequent as every 15 minutes.

At Google headquarters, a small team of transportation specialists monitors regional traffic patterns, maps out the residences of new hires and plots new routes — sometimes as many as 10 in a three-month period — to keep up with ever surging demand.

Many employers run programs for commuters, including van pools, shuttles to and from transit hubs and subsidies for public transit and alternative modes of transportation, but several transportation experts say Google appears to have built an unparalleled transit network.

“I don’t know of any program in the Bay Area or in a metropolitan area nationwide larger than that,” said Tad Widby, the project manager for the 511 Regional Rideshare Program, who has studied transportation systems nationwide.

As much as it is a generous fringe benefit or an environmental gesture, the shuttle program is a competitive weapon in Silicon Valley’s recruiting wars.

One of the biggest challenges facing the Google juggernaut, with a staff that has been doubling every year, is to continue to attract the best. Many technology workers say that the potential benefit from stock options for new hires is limited, since the company’s shares have already surged more than fourfold since its 2004 public offering of $85.

The shuttles may not be able to lift Google’s stock price, but they have struck a chord with employees.

“It’s the most useful Google fringe benefit,” said Wiltse Carpenter, a 45-year-old software engineer. Mr. Carpenter has been with Google only a few months, but before that he had commuted from San Francisco to the same Highway 101 exit since 1992, having worked at Silicon Graphics and Microsoft, two Google neighbors. “It’s changed my quality of life,” he said.

That sentiment is not surprising. Even Googlers have to worry about the area’s high real estate prices, which have sent families to the outer confines of the region in search of cheaper housing. And the hopping cultural and social life of San Francisco remains a magnet for young workers, even though the commute to offices in Silicon Valley, some 35 miles to the south, can take well over an hour. A recent survey showed that traffic was the No. 1 concern for the area’s residents — for the 10th year in a row.

But on a rainy winter afternoon, as some 20 Google employees hopped onto the 4:40 p.m. back to the Mission and Noe Valley districts of San Francisco, those concerns seemed distant. The shuttle merged onto Highway 101, made its way across three lanes packed with slow-moving vehicles and into the carpool lane, where it began speeding past hundreds of commuters.

Inside, most riders appeared to abide by the shuttle’s etiquette rules. Cellphone conversations are allowed if they are work-related and sotto voce. But loud personal calls are definitely out. In fact, except for a couple snuggled together, no one sat on adjacent seats. Many took out iPods or laptops and worked, surfed the Web or watched videos.

“People tend to be quiet and respectful that this is people’s downtime,” said Diana Alberghini, a 33-year-old program manager.

Google will not discuss the cost of the program, which it operates through Bauer’s Limousine, a private transportation company in San Francisco. But the shuttles appear to be having the desired effect on recruiting. Michael Gaiman, a 23-year-old Web applications engineer who lives in San Francisco and was recently hired, said he turned down an offer from Apple before accepting the job at Google. “It definitely was a factor,” Mr. Gaiman said of the shuttle.

Colin Klingman, 38, who works at Google as an independent software contractor — and hence has to pay a small fee for the shuttle to comply with tax rules — said he waited to apply to Google until there was a stop near his San Francisco house.

Those types of decisions have been noticed around Silicon Valley. Yahoo, a leading competitor to Google, began a shuttle program in 2005 that could be described as the Pepsi to Google’s Coke. It shuttles about 350 employees on peak days to and from San Francisco as well as Berkeley, Oakland and other East Bay cities. Yahoo’s buses also run on biodiesel and are equipped with Internet access, but the company’s commute coordinator, Danielle Bricker, said the program was only “indirectly” inspired by Google’s.

Meanwhile eBay recently began a pilot shuttle to five pickup spots in San Francisco. And some high-tech employers are coming up with other approaches. Instead of making it easier for employees to live far from work, Facebook, the social networking site, makes it easier for them to live nearby: it offers a $600 monthly housing subsidy for those who live within a mile of the company’s Palo Alto headquarters.

There are signs that Google’s shuttles could be affecting — albeit in small ways — the region’s housing market.

When Adam Klein, a 24-year-old software engineer, moved to San Francisco in 2005 to take a job at Google, he looked for a rental apartment within a 15-minute walk of a shuttle stop. His walk to the Civic Center stop turned out to be a bit longer. “I didn’t take into account the hills,” Mr. Klein said. Many of his friends are moving close to other shuttle stops. “Those stops have attracted people,” he said.

The area surrounding one of the shuttle’s Pacific Heights stops had a dozen or so Googlers living nearby in 2005. That number has surged to more than 60.

For all their popularity, the shuttles have yet to earn Google the title of most commuter-friendly employer. The top spot in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Best Workplaces for Commuters went to Intel, which allows telecommuting, offers transit subsidies to employees and helps pay for shuttles that bring workers from transit stops, among other benefits. Google tied Oracle for third; Microsoft came in second.

But Googlers hooked on the convenience of the shuttles say nothing tops their commuting perk.

“They could either charge for the food or cut it altogether,” said Bent Hagemark, a 44-year-old software engineer who boarded a Google shuttle in Cow Hollow, an upscale neighborhood in the north end of San Francisco. “If they cut the shuttle, it would be a disaster.”

the story behind the story about Tiki retiring

From Pro Football Weekly-online edition you know i'll have something to say about this!!
Barber upsets Coughlin in initial foray into media career
By Trent Modglin
March 11, 2007

Tiki Barber is already walking that thin line, the one many before him have toed with caution, some without. Former players who turn in the helmet and cleats for the designer suit, microphone and sharp-witted opinions that make people want to tune in on Sundays.

As the media world’s newest and most anticipated addition, he waited but a few minutes after ending the day job he has had for the past 10 years — that being running back of the Giants — to lay into his former boss, Tom Coughlin.

Barber will work on NBC’s “Today Show” and on the network’s Sunday-night football coverage. At his introduction as the newest member of “Today,” Barber didn’t hold back in ripping into Coughlin, suggesting that it should be considered an “act of God” that the physical demands the coach placed on him in New York did not result in any serious injuries.

“Coach Coughlin is very hard-nosed, and I didn’t get a lot of time off, couldn’t sit down and rest myself, and so it was a constant grind — a physical grind on me that started to take its toll,” Barber told reporters at the press conference.

“The grind took its toll on me and really forced me to start thinking about what I wanted to do next. And that’s not a bad thing. That’s a good thing, for me at least. Maybe not for the Giants, because they lose one of their great players, but for me, it is.

“We were in full pads for 17 weeks, and with the amount of injuries that we had, it just takes a toll on you. You just physically don’t want to be out there when your body feels the way you do in full pads. And while it probably doesn’t have a really detrimental effect on how you practice or how you play, it does on your mind. And if you lose your mind in this game, you lose a lot.”

This was not the first time Barber had been openly critical of Coughlin. He said the Giants were outcoached after a playoff loss to the Panthers a year ago and bristled at the play-calling after another game. He also had a much-publicized spat with Giants DE Michael Strahan over Strahan’s contract squabble with the team.

But here’s where it gets tricky. Barber has plenty of friends in the Giants’ locker room and around the NFL. His twin brother, Ronde, with whom he hosts a weekly Sirius satellite radio show, still plays for the Buccaneers. And now, as Barber changes gears professionally, he will be asked to further analyze, to pick apart and dissect, and ultimately, to criticize his peers.

No more cookie-cutter, P.R.-sanitized answers to mundane, everyday questions. No more holding back for the sake of wondering whose feathers you might ruffle. He’s not getting paid to run the football anymore. He’s getting paid to observe and to speak his mind.

As a member of the media, the challenge for Tiki is to be unbiased, to challenge those who need it. To use his vast playing experience and the fact he’s so recently removed from the game to provide insight and knowledge that viewers wouldn’t ordinarily have been privy to. But some of the people he will put under the microscope will undoubtedly be the same he sought out for a hug after games. Those he had dinner with on the road on Saturday night before games. Those he will be relying on for inside information from around the NFL.

Jerome Bettis, his new teammate on NBC’s Sunday-night broadcast, could share a piece of advice. Early in his tenure with the media, Bettis upset his former head coach, Bill Cowher, by saying he believed Cowher would retire after their Super Bowl title with the Steelers a year ago. Turns out, Cowher stepped down this year, so Bettis was actually only a season off with his prediction, but injecting his opinion when he did still disappointed his beloved coach.

Coughlin, too, was annoyed at Barber’s parting shots. Mostly, he was upset that Barber didn’t discuss it directly with him. Why Barber had to lay it out in front of reporters as opposed to in his office, he’ll never know. Like the rest of us, Coughlin assumed the press conference was designed to announce Barber’s new gig with NBC. And it was. But Barber also found time to hit a few scathing notes before the nameplate could even be changed above his locker.

“I think to give the illusion that I had something to do with his retirement, I don’t quite follow that,” Coughlin said.

And let’s keep one more thing in perspective here. Coughlin helped make the Tiki Barber we know. The one with multiple Pro Bowl appearances. The star.

Before Coughlin arrived in New York, Barber’s high mark for rushing yards in a season was 1,387. And he fumbled the football more than our president does words, coughing up the pigskin 40 times from 2000-04. In three seasons under Coughlin, Barber rushed for 1,518, 1,860 and 1,662 yards and eliminated the aforementioned fumbling problems by holding the ball upright, tight to his body, the way Coughlin taught him. He fumbled only four times the past two seasons.

I admire Barber for having the guts to leave the game in his prime, when he was ready, before his body or a general manager was the one telling him it was time to go. If Stephen King wanted to stop writing and become, say, a painter, who are we to judge? If Julia Roberts wanted to put an end to her acting career and start a day care, it’s her prerogative. As fans, we’re selfish and long to see more, but it’s their lives.

In my experience, far too many media types let athletes off easy, asking the softball questions or offering glossed-over, obvious evaluations that provide us with nothing. What we have grown to expect out of studio analysts like Tom Jackson, Merril Hoge, Cris Collinsworth or Howie Long, however, is more honest, forthright assessments. We want to see the game through their eyes, and they often let us. And I have no doubt Barber will be good at this aspect of the job. He is smooth, articulate, bright and, as we’ve seen on occasion, opinionated.

But taking a shot at a former coach who did so much for your career, intimating that his disciplinarian style — which has been well-documented in the past — helped hasten your decision to leave stage left, seemed unnecessary and a harsh way to part ways. Perhaps that’s why Barber’s representative, in response to my request, said Barber wasn’t currently doing any further interviews.

And despite his training on radio and TV’s “Fox and Friends,” I guess that’s part of the challenge of his new gig. To learn what to say and when to say it. To objectively critique without coddling (the opposite of Michael Irvin) or coming off resentful. And since Barber is a twin, his new boss said he has a backup plan.

“On those days when you’re not feeling well, we’ll just call Tampa Bay and get your brother,” NBC News president Steve Capus said.

Wonder if that made Jon Gruden nervous?

Forget about John Gruden for a minute.

So everyone now thinks Tiki retired because Coughlin was pushing him too hard, leading to the perception that Tiki is "Soft"
Soft is not 6 strait 1,000+ yard seasons. Soft is not 4 fumbles in 3 years once he changed his style of carrying the ball.
Your not soft when you say" It's time to hang it up" before your body tells you to. Tiki's just speaking his mind, and last i heard, you are allowed to do that in this country.....

NY Giants Trade with Cleveland Browns: Give Tim Carter Get Ruben Droughns

Team's first move: Adding Droughns

The Giants acquired running back Reuben Droughns from the Browns on Friday for underachieving wide receiver Tim Carter, ending their search for a complement to Brandon Jacobs and a week of inactivity since free agency began.

Droughns, 28, rushed for 1,240 yards for the Broncos in 2004 and 1,232 with the Browns in 2005 but had only 758 this past season. He became expendable after the Browns signed Jamal Lewis.

Carter, 27, has been expendable for nearly as long as he's been a Giant. Drafted in the second round in 2002, he caught only 72 passes in 53 games. Plagued by injuries, Carter was unable to live up to his promise as a speed demon.

The Giants acted fast yesterday after Dominic Rhodes, who came in for a visit March 2 - the first day of free agency - signed a two-year deal with the Raiders worth as much as $7.5 million.

"I realize the perception is that we haven't done anything through the first week of free agency because we haven't signed any unrestricted free agents," Giants general manager Jerry Reese said. "The opposite is true. We have been working very hard to do what's best for this franchise. The fact is we had a few guys we had targeted that would have made sense for us under the right circumstances.

"A couple of those simply didn't work out, but there is a whole lot of the free-agency period left and the draft and the rest of the offseason for us to continue to build this roster, and we're going to work smartly in doing that."

In an interview on Sirius satellite radio, Droughns dismissed any problems he might have working behind Jacobs or with coach Tom Coughlin.

"For most teams, it's been a two-back system," he said. "The two teams in the Super Bowl this year had a two-back system, so we're going to complement each other very well."

As for Coughlin, who is under pressure to win this year, Droughns said: "I just know he's a good coach. You hear your rumors and everything, but his record speaks for itself. He does a good job getting the guys ready and prepared to play.

"I've had a lot of disciplinarian coaches in my past, so I'm sure it won't be too much of a problem at all."

Droughns is due $5.75 million over the next three seasons, though a report Friday indicated that his contract has been re-worked by the Giants.

Rev Al Sharpton Being A Crabbarrel Dweller To Barack Obama

The way Rev. Al Sharpton's treating Senator Barack Obama reminds me of something that happened to me in Oakland. When I worked for the City of Oakland, and then-Mayor Jerry Brown, fresh from his election victory, was moving into City Hall, I was to be transfered over from my office in the Mayor's Office, to ...somewhere.

City Manager Robert Bobb personally asked me to talk with then-Economic Development Director Bill Claggett, with whom I did not entirely get along with. But I did have lunch with him and he told me that he thought I talked like I knew everything. To which I said it wasn't that I did, but many people -- himself included -- were not used to hearing someone Black speak well.

At that point, I didn't want to go over to Economic Development

When I told Robert Robb what happened, his reaction was that he expected Glaggett to say that. "Oakland," he said, "Is a crabbarrel town. You know what I mean? You? Bright. Young. Articulate. Black. They can't stand that. They want to pull you down."

Because Bobb said that, I went to Economic Development -- simply because he knew what the problem was and how stupid some of the people were being. The same can be said for Reverend Al -- well the stupid part that is.

One big reason we as African Americans have been slow to overcome the chains of the past is that people like Reverend Al won't let us take them off. And for every one of us who does, like Barack Obama, there's someone like Reverend Al, right there to put them back on again -- or at least try to. According to an article in the New York Post , Sharpton doens't like Obama and is jealous of his success.

Now Sharpton knows that if anyone can help him achieve his agenda, it's Barack Obama, but the possibility of success is not desirable to him as long as he has to deal with someone who's able to be something that Sharpton doesn't see himself as: bright, smart, and attractive. So, Sharpton says he's "not Black" knowing all the time that slavery is not a measure of Blackness and never was. There were "free" Blacks even during Slavery. He also knows that many of us have some measure of White blood. Big deal. It's how society regards us, and everyone sees Barack Obama as Black, including himself.

I've gotten the same slings and arrows from not just Blacks, but people like Bill Claggett, who's White, that Barack Obama's getting today. Fortunately, America's waking-up to the stupidity of people like Claggett and Sharpton, and in such a way that Sharpton's childish attitude could wind up hurting his friend and presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.

But such an outcome is of no matter to a Crabbarel like Reverend Al. As long as Blacks remain second class citizens and there's room for his "victimization" approach, and he's on top, that's all. It's all about Reverend Al, no matter how much it hurts other Blacks like me or Senator Obama.

He's just trying to pull us down.