Archives for February 2010

Black History: Remembering W.E.B. Du Bois


 William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (February 23, 1868 – August 27, 1963) was an American civil rights activist, leader, Pan-Africanist, sociologist, educator, historian, writer, editor, poet, and scholar. He became a naturalized citizen of Ghana in 1963 at the age of 95. 

The late Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee drop lots of science about W.E.B. Du Bois on this Bill Moyers show.. 

Remembering W.E.B. Du Bois 

 On Feb. 23, 1868, W. E. B. Du Bois was born in Great Barrington, Mass., where he grew up. During his youth he did some newspaper reporting. In 1884 he graduated as valedictorian from high school. He got his bachelor of arts from Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., in 1888, having spent summers teaching in African American schools in Nashville’s rural areas. In 1888 he entered Harvard University as a junior, took a bachelor of arts cum laude in 1890, and was one of six commencement speakers. From 1892 to 1894 he pursued graduate studies in history and economics at the University of Berlin on a Slater Fund fellowship. He served for 2 years as professor of Greek and Latin at Wilberforce University in Ohio. 

In 1891 Du Bois got his master of arts and in 1895 his doctorate in history from Harvard. His dissertation, The Suppression of the African Slave Trade to the United States of America, 1638-1870, was published as No. 1 in the Harvard Historical Series. This important work has yet to be surpassed. In 1896 he married Nina Gomer, and they had two children. 

In 1896-1897 Du Bois became assistant instructor in sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. There he conducted the pioneering sociological study of an urban community, published as The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study (1899). These first two works assured Du Bois’s place among America’s leading scholars. 


Du Bois’s life and work were an inseparable mixture of scholarship, protest activity, and polemics. All of his efforts were geared toward gaining equal treatment for black people in a world dominated by whites and toward marshaling and presenting evidence to refute the myths of racial inferiority. 

As Racial Activist 

In 1905 Du Bois was a founder and general secretary of the Niagara movement, an African American protest group of scholars and professionals. Du Bois founded and edited the Moon (1906) and the Horizon (1907-1910) as organs for the Niagara movement. In 1909 Du Bois was among the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and from 1910 to 1934 served it as director of publicity and research, a member of the board of directors, and editor of the Crisis, its monthly magazine. 

In the Crisis, Du Bois directed a constant stream of agitation–often bitter and sarcastic–at white Americans while serving as a source of information and pride to African Americans. The magazine always published young African American writers. Racial protest during the decade following World War I focused on securing anti-lynching legislation. During this period the NAACP was the leading protest organization and Du Bois its leading figure. 


In 1934 Du Bois resigned from the NAACP board and from the Crisis because of his new advocacy of an African American nationalist strategy: African American controlled institutions, schools, and economic cooperatives. This approach opposed the NAACP’s commitment to integration. However, he returned to the NAACP as director of special research from 1944 to 1948. During this period he was active in placing the grievances of African Americans before the United Nations, serving as a consultant to the UN founding convention (1945) and writing the famous “An Appeal to the World” (1947). 

Du Bois was a member of the Socialist party from 1910 to 1912 and always considered himself a Socialist. In 1948 he was cochairman of the Council on African Affairs; in 1949 he attended the New York, Paris, and Moscow peace congresses; in 1950 he served as chairman of the Peace Information Center and ran for the U.S. Senate on the American Labor party ticket in New York. In 1950-1951 Du Bois was tried and acquitted as an agent of a foreign power in one of the most ludicrous actions ever taken by the American government. Du Bois traveled widely throughout Russia and China in 1958-1959 and in 1961 joined the Communist party of the United States. He also took up residence in Ghana, Africa, in 1961. 


Du Bois was also active in behalf of pan-Africanism and concerned with the conditions of people of African descent wherever they lived. In 1900 he attended the First Pan-African Conference held in London, was elected a vice president, and wrote the “Address to the Nations of the World.” The Niagara movement included a “pan-African department.” In 1911 Du Bois attended the First Universal Races Congress in London along with black intellectuals from Africa and the West Indies. 


Du Bois organized a series of pan-African congresses around the world, in 1919, 1921, 1923, and 1927. The delegations comprised intellectuals from Africa, the West Indies, and the United States. Though resolutions condemning colonialism and calling for alleviation of the oppression of Africans were passed, little concrete action was taken. The Fifth Congress (1945, Manchester, England) elected Du Bois as chairman, but the power was clearly in the hands of younger activists, such as George Padmore and Kwame Nkrumah, who later became significant in the independence movements of their respective countries. Du Bois’s final pan-African gesture was to take up citizenship in Ghana in 1961 at the request of President Kwame Nkrumah and to begin work as director of the Encyclopedia Africana

As Scholar 

Du Bois’s most lasting contribution is his writing. As poet, playwright, novelist, essayist, sociologist, historian, and journalist, he wrote 21 books, edited 15 more, and published over 100 essays and articles. Only a few of his most significant works will be mentioned here. 

From 1897 to 1910 Du Bois served as professor of economics and history at Atlanta University, where he organized conferences titled the Atlanta University Studies of the Negro Problem and edited or co-edited 16 of the annual publications, on such topics as The Negro in Business (1899), The Negro Artisan (1902), The Negro Church (1903), Economic Cooperation among Negro Americans (1907), and The Negro American Family (1908). Other significant publications were The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches (1903), one of the outstanding collections of essays in American letters, and John Brown (1909), a sympathetic portrayal published in the American Crisis Biographies series. 

Du Bois also wrote two novels, The Quest of the Silver Fleece (1911) and Dark Princess: A Romance (1928); a book of essays and poetry, Darkwater: Voices from within the Veil (1920); and two histories of black people, The Negro (1915) and The Gift of Black Folk: Negroes in the Making of America (1924). 


From 1934 to 1944 Du Bois was chairman of the department of sociology at Atlanta University. In 1940 he founded Phylon, a social science quarterly. Black Reconstruction in America, 1860-1880 (1935), perhaps his most significant historical work, details the role of African Americans in American society, specifically during the Reconstruction period. The book was criticized for its use of Marxist concepts and for its attacks on the racist character of much of American historiography. However, it remains the best single source on its subject. 

Black Folk, Then and Now (1939) is an elaboration of the history of black people in Africa and the New World. Color and Democracy: Colonies and Peace (1945) is a brief call for the granting of independence to Africans, and The World and Africa: An Inquiry into the Part Which Africa Has Played in World History (1947; enlarged ed. 1965) is a major work anticipating many later scholarly conclusions regarding the significance and complexity of African history and culture. A trilogy of novels, collectively entitled The Black Flame (1957, 1959, 1961), and a selection of his writings, An ABC of Color (1963), are also worthy. 

Du Bois received many honorary degrees, was a fellow and life member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters. He was the outstanding African American intellectual of his period in America. 

Du Bois died in Ghana on Aug. 27, 1963, on the eve of the civil rights march in Washington, D.C. He was given a state funeral, at which Kwame Nkrumah remarked that he was “a phenomenon.” 

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Pittsburgh Hip Hop Awards roll with the punches


Rhymes get Written When Love & Trouble Arises (Breakdown FM)

Rhymes get Written when Love and Trouble Arise… Click links below to Listen
01-Pete Rock &CL Smooth ‘Lots of Loving’

02-Art of Noise ‘Moments in Love’ (Davey D Sista Souljah remix)

03-Paris ‘Assaata’s Song’

04-Brooklyn Funk Essentials ‘Take L Train to Bk’

05-Menaha Street Band ‘Tired of Fighting’

06-Menahan Street Band ‘Going the Distance’

07-Neomythic ‘Red Clay’

08-Labtekwon ‘Love Epilogue’

09-Brand Nubian ‘Sincerely’

10-Isaac Hayes ‘Walk on By’

11-Know Jazz ‘Funky Maiden’

12-Brand New Heavies ‘I Don’t Know Why I Love You’

13-J Boogie w/ Zumbi ‘For Your Love’

14-Jennifer Johns ‘O’

15-Adina Howard ‘That Man’

16-Kem ‘Say’

17-Christian ‘My Reason’

18-Abdidun Oyewole ‘Brown Sugar’

19-Brother Ali ‘You Say Puppy Love’

20-Jessica Celious ‘Yes’

21-Lloyd Jones ‘Baby You’re Driving me Crazy’

22-Kev Choice ‘This is Your Song’

23-Mystic ‘Beautiful Resistence’

24-Dessa ‘The Chacone’

25- Kellie Maze ‘Third Eye’

26-Maria Isa  ‘Street Politics w/ Killa Capone

27-Sunspot Jones ‘Magic Box For Me’

28-Word Burgular ‘Rhyme With I’m

29-Word Bugular ‘The Route’

30-Dessa ‘Children’s Work’

Rakim Transcends Hip Hop’s Age Barrier


Rakim Transcends Hip Hop’s Age Barrier 

By  Harry Williams

(Author of Straight Outta East Oakland 

 Harlem 1986; the summer of crack.  I can feel the early morning scorch of the sun as it melts the asphalt.  Blue, red, black and green vial caps are strewn all over West 115th street’s concrete carpet.  They seem to have magically rained down from the sky the night before.  I can still hear the familiar crunch the plastic capsules make under my sneaker soles as I trudge down Frederick Douglas Boulevard.   

Everything changed that summer.  Senior citizens sitting on tenement stoops used to talk about how heroin had destroyed Harlem’s sweetness in the sixties.  Now they really had something to complain about.  Crack’s highly addictive qualities turned every day people into devotees on a constant mission to score.  The brief euphoria was followed by a thirst for yet another blast.  It wasn’t long before Harlem saw teenage profiteers driving around in Mercedes Benz Sedans.   Saturday night specials were no longer enough to keep the pirates and jackals at bay.  Hustlers needed firepower.  9 millimeter hand guns and AK-47 assault rifles were everywhere.  Blood hot ran in the streets.   
 Hungry children wandered the streets in search of their strung out parents.  High school girls, trapped by the lure of the beast found themselves prostituting for tiny white rocks.  The papers were full of murders, brazen daytime robberies and muggings.  Crack heads in search of that next blast shed all regard for human life.  The price of human life plummeted.  Oh, and there was one other thing that changed that summer–hip hop. 

In the early eighties, rappers were kids who lived in your neighborhood.  They had colorful names which they wore stenciled on their sweat shirts.  They battled for hard earned reputations and they bragged about material stuff they didn’t have and would never be able to get.  Hip hop artists were largely poor kids who lived in the South Bronx, Harlem, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.  It wasn’t unusual to find a kid with a top selling twelve inch single sitting next to you on the subway.   

Crack changed the economics of the hip hop game.  The new jack hustlers who sipped champagne at hustler’s dens like the Roof Top and at Latin Quarters had plenty of money to spend.  They draped thousands of dollars worth of gold jewelry over expensive urban wear.  The money was coming in fast and the dealers were more than willing to spend it on entertainment that went with the lifestyle.   

There was one song that rang through the bullet scarred streets of Harlem ’86 like choir hymns at the Vatican; “My Melody.” The haunting whistle over the thunderous boom bap drums sounded from every car stereo, ghetto blaster and house speaker in thug’s village.  Eric B. and Rakim were the urban samurais of the new apocalypse. Ra was the voice of the era; a “god”– a member of the Nation of the Five Percent.  The Nation of Gods and Earths was well known in the New York tri-state area.  The young black men who accepted its message, adopted names reflective of the teachings–often names with “God” and “Savior” in them.   

You could not go to Barnes and Noble to pick up a copy of their “lessons.”  The preachments of the group were propagated hand to hand on Xeroxed pages by the members.  Although, the Five Percent was a secret society, snippets and bits of their teachings were shared with the greater world.  Rakim Allah was not the first god to drop “science” on a record.  However, he became a sort of John the Baptist figure, encrypting his message in music that would begin to break New York City’s defacto daytime radio ban on hip hop. 

Eric B. and Rakim possessed swagger before the word had entered the hip hop lexicon.  With fur coats and a collection of gold chains that a pharaoh would have envied, the duo dressed and drove like their audience.  Rap had come along way since the days of the Sugar Hill Gang.   
 Within two years of their debut, Eric B. and Rakim would be headlining a hip hop all star concert at the Nassau Coliseum.  The arena was packed like an NAACP convention.  Rakim called Long Island home.  You could feel that cloud of expectation rising as Strong Island’s favorite son’s time drew near.  The curtain rose.  Eric B. and Rakim strolled out of the base of a gold pyramid with money green laser beams shooting from the top.  “I know you got soul…” Rakim drawled.  You could feel the rafters shake.   

Fast forward.  Fall 2009.  It is a cool night in San Francisco.  The world has changed.  Most of the eighties era crack hustlers have gone to prison or the graveyard.  America has a black president.  Hip hop’s face is still black but it’s body is now a multi-cultural phenomenon.   

I have long ago left Harlem.  I now life in Oakland.  When I found that Rakim was performing at a San Francisco night club called Slim’s, I had to be there.  As I walked toward the front door, I remembered seeing hundreds of people standing outside at the promise of a Rakim performance.  That was back in the eighties when Rakim was the face and the voice, of young urban America.  Slim’s might fit 150 people comfortably.  Tonight it is not even half full.  There aren’t ten African American fans in the audience.  The world changes. The stage is sparse.  There is no back drop save for two turntables and a disco mixer.  DJ Tech is on point.  He urges the crowd to raise the roof with applause.  Rakim saunters from the wings with a microphone in his fist.  

Rakim was a teenager when I first saw him move the crowd.  He was the voice of young urban New York City.  Tonight, there is some gray in his goatee.  He is in his forties.  And yet his ability to flow; to spit uncanny metaphors with the voice of the gritty streets underneath him keeps the crowd screaming.  I am thankful that his gifts are appreciated beyond Harlem and long after the close of the frightful crack epidemic of the 1980s.   

Rakim’s rhymes are on smooth and on point.  For 40 minutes we are treated to a blast from the past.  He performs bits from all of his hits, “My Melody”, “Eric B. For President”, “Paid In Full”, and a slew of others.  He points the microphone at the crowd and urges us to finish his verses on cue.  The set is drawing to a close and yet Rakim does not hit the crowd with my favorite song.  “Follow The Leader!” I holler as he saunters off the stage.   

A few weeks later, Rakim’s first release in ten years dropped.  The Seventh Seal’s

cover displays a black and white photo of Rakim dressed in a prophet’s cloak and hood.  He is standing alone in the middle of a desert.  Grains of sand flow through his fingertips.  The symbolism is unmistakable.  The desert is hip hop.  Rakim is the last man standing.   

(You can reach Harry Williams at 

Twenty-four years is an eternity in the world of hip hop.  The world that brought him to us has long disappeared into the rear view mirror of history and yet here he is; a refugee from an exploded planet–our son of Krypton.  And I’m still bobbing my head his music.

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President Obama Releases His Own Healthcare Plan proposal-Has No Public Option


President Obama officially released his own health care reform proposal on Monday in a last-ditch effort to unite the Democratic Party around some sort of comprehensive legislation.

Coming days before the much anticipated bipartisan health care reform summit this Thursday, the 11-page White House proposal is being pitched as a foundation upon which lawmakers can build. Presidential aides stressed repeatedly on a call with reporters Monday that Republicans will have opportunities to amend it.

“We view this as the opening bid for the health meeting,” said Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer. “We took our best shot at bridging the differences. We think this makes some strong steps to improving the final product. It is our hope the Republicans will come together around their plan and post that online prior to the meeting so that the American people have a chance to go look at it… and be thoroughly informed heading into this meeting.”

But it clearly remains a Democratic effort. Working off the Senate’s bill while melding key provisions from the House’s version, White House officials are proposing to add another $75 billion in costs to the legislation, bringing the total up to $950 billion over the next decade — all of which will be offset by increased revenue.

Among the major changes in the president’s proposal:

  • It removes the $100 million in Medicaid funding that Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) had secured for his home state of Nebraska — funding that, after intense criticism, even Nelson now wants removed.
  • It adopts the House’s more generous measures to help individuals purchase insurance, and adopts the Senate’s approach when it comes to penalizing individuals who don’t buy insurance — basing the penalty on a reduced flat dollar assessment or percentage of income, and including a “hardship” exemption for families who simply cannot pay the fine. (This paragraph has been corrected.)
  • It closes the Medicare prescription drug “donut hole” coverage gap by 2010 — choosing the House’s language rather than the Senate’s (which would provide a 50 percent discount for only certain drugs in the hole). How this conforms to the deal that the White House cut with the pharmaceutical industry at the beginning of the health care reform process is unclear.
  • It adopts the Senate’s model for health insurance exchanges (virtual marketplaces for consumers to compare and buy coverage) making them state-based as opposed to national. One plugged-in activist told the Huffington Post that this could be because it would be impossible to pass national exchanges into law using the Senate’s simple-majority reconciliation process.
  • It adopts the Senate’s abortion provisions, which are more moderate than the aggressively anti-choice measures adopted in the House.
  • It uses the Senate’s revenue provisions, though it goes a long way toward pacifying those concerned about the so-called “Cadillac tax”. The threshold at which health care plans would be hit by that tax would be raised from $23,000 for a family plan to $27,500. And the provisions would not kick in at all until 2018.
  • It includes a new wrinkle: establishing a national health insurance authority that would help states combat insurers that institute unreasonable premium increases. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced this same proposal last week.
  • Finally, despite a late-stage push for the White House to include a public option for insurance coverage in the final bill, the president’s proposal does not include any element of government-run insurance.

“There is not a public option in here,” said Pfeiffer, before insisting that the president does support the provision.

Here’s the Obama Proposal

With the health care summit scheduled for this Thursday, the White House is hoping that this foundation will get even a sliver of support from the Republican caucus. But aides aren’t holding their breath. Calling for an up-or-down vote on the bill, Pfeiffer nevertheless declined to surrender the idea that Democrats would pass the legislation in the Senate using reconciliation — the parliamentary process that precludes filibusters.

“This package is designed to help us [use reconciliation] if the Republican Party decides to filibuster health care reform,” said Pfeiffer. “That was certainly a factor that went in to how we put this proposal together.”

Obama’s proposal is designed to fill the role traditionally played by House and Senate negotiators in conference committee — bringing together disparate factions around one cohesive reform package. White House aides said that they consulted and worked with members of Congress when drafting their approach. Whether they have the necessary support of the Democratic Caucus to get it passed, however, is still very much an open question.

“The proposal we are putting on line is informed by our discussions with the House and the Senate leadership,” Pfeiffer said. “But it is the president’s proposal.”

original source:

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Anger in the Nation: Was Joe Stack a Hero or Terrorist and Did You Mourn for Vernon Hunter?


There’s no excuse for taking an innocent life especially in the manner that  has been attributed to Joseph Andrew Stack, the Austin pilot who rammed his plane into a seven story building in North Austin near Frontage road, where the IRS office was housed. By now we all heard the reports about him setting his house on fire. We heard about the rantings he left in what appears to be a suicide note of sorts that was posted on his now disabled website.  We heard all these different things and at the end of the day what we have, is a disturbed man who was so angry  at any number of things he decided to lash out.  Is it wrong? Yes, Is it cowardly? No doubt.

Joe Stack

Equally as cowardly is the fact that Stack has all but disappeared from mainstream news coverage. Well at least on Friday he did, the day after he committed his act of terrorism.. less then 24 hours after he flew his plane into the building, all of us from coast to coast were treated to the circus surrounding Tiger Woods and his staged apology. That was followed by one of his distraught mistresses a porn star who was upset and held a press conference of her own because she never got an apology and according to her she had quit her job in porn industry to mess around with a married Tiger Woods. It was a sight to behold as, regular news coverage was interrupted to carry wood’s apology. Urban radio stations including some owned by san Antonio based Clear Channel had live streaming of Woods while ignoring important easily, more impacting issues. News pundits and experts were brought in to speak to Tiger’s bad behavior and access whether or not he redeemed himself. We did all this before we even knew the name of IRS worker Stacks had killed in his attack.

What was also lost in the sauce were all the troubling questions around Stack’s actions. Why did he do it? Was his anger at the IRS and government isolated or is it part of a larger emotional trend being expressed by Americans but not playing itself out to such extremes-yet?

Fausto Cardenas shot up the Capitol last month in Austin

I found it interesting that no one wants to talk about Fausto Cardenas, the 24-year-old Houston man who was arrested just a month ago for shooting his gun off in front of the state’s Capital. He had just visited the office of a state senator Dan Patrick where he made members of his staff feel uncomfortable. Cardenas left the office and then busted off shots. Luckily no one was hurt due to the fact police pounced on him, but we’re still left wondering why he did it? Was Cardenas angry at the government? Was he guy who just had a bad day?

Say what you will, but when I see or hear of two incidents around government buildings I wanna first acknowledge them and see if there are any dots connected. After all, we do this all the time with shootings. We ask is it gang related? is there a connection? Is this the jump off for more things to come..

Stack’s so called rambling letter or manifesto can not be swept aside as some mumbo jumbo by a lunatic. He was quite clear that he had a lot of anger and felt the government that all of us are supposed to trust was out to get him. It’s the same type of anger I saw at early Tea Party rallies. It’s the same type of anger I saw at Healthcare Townhalls the past summer. It’s the anger I see and hear people expressing both from the political left and political right about everything ranging from bank bailouts and bonuses to fat greedy executives to the government doing too much to the government doing too little to protect folks at a time when we have a jacked up economy and high unemployment. People are angry-very angry. They’re so angry that a website was set up where several thousand people immediately joined praising Joseph Stack as a hero. Hell we, took a break from all the Tiger Woods coverage this morning to grant Stack’s daughter Samantha Bell a platform on Good Morning America where she praised her father as a hero for standing up to the system.

Meanwhile punk ass news pundits have been besides themselves debating whether or not to call Stack a terrorist. Nevermind the fact that we have gang members and undocumented workers sneaking into this country routinely being called terrorists by these same pundits as well as by some in law enforcement. But like I noted when it comes to Stack it’s a debate.  Sadly many of these overzealous pundits have not been too besides themselves to call attention to Vernon Hunter, the 68 year Black man who was killed when Stack smashed his plane in the building. We didn’t hear a clarion call to even offer our condolences..

We were setting up websites for Joe Stacks praising him as a hero before we knew 68 year old Vernon Hunter the IRS worker he killed when he crashed his plane.

Nope, not too many of our esteemed news pundits and politicians were to quick to call for our country to honor a real hero-who served two tours of duty in Vietnam. He worked for 20 years at the IRS. Why didn’t we highlight this victim of domestic terrorism the way we did Tiger Woods? There was  some local coverage here in the Austin area, but most people around the country who eagerly read Stack’s suicide note/manifesto and debated with folks about whether Stacks was a right winger or an Obama supporter, never heard of Vernon Hunter. One can only imagine how his wife and kids feel…

And still all the nagging questions remain..Was the Stacks incident isolated?

There are many that wish to dismiss this. I heard from them last week. They like so many of us here in this country want a neat ending to a messy situation. Many have been dismissive,  when attempts were made to see if this anger Stacks was feeling was connected to the anger Cardenas may have been feeling when he fired shots on the Capital and if  those two incidents of expressed anger were  connected to the anger felt by Nidal Malik Hasan who wound up shooting and killing 12 people and injuring 31 on nearby Fort Hood. We also need to include the sentiments behind the rash of church burnings-11 in all since the beginning of this year throughout East Texas. Two suspects  Robert Bourque, 19, and 21-year-old Daniel George McAllister were arrested over the weekend.. How angry do you have to be to burn 11 churches?

Looking over the recent events here in Texas, its hard not be concerned about exactly how much anger is out there. I can’t help but wonder if some of that angst was stoked when you have a sitting governor-Rick Perry calling for the state to secede from the rest of the Union. How much does that feed into the anger and angst that’s obviously festering out there?

Maybe those who like to have happy ending can brush all this aside and try to make it seem as all this is a series of strange coincidents. Such is not the case for Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitan. It was just yesterday that she announced that one of her main priorities is dealing with domestic extremism. She spoke at the annual governor’s convention where she said this problem needs to be ‘drilled down and analyzed’.

Ron Paul

I’m not quite sure how Napolitan’s assessment will translate into policy. With so much anger, I worry that the government will use this concern as an excuse to clamp down on people versus trying to address core issues of concern and dissent. With anti-establishment politicos like congressman Ron Paul winning the straw poll for who the Republicans want for president this past weekend at the CPAC convention and Democratic voters crossing over to vote for a Republican Scott Brown over Democrat Martha Coakley in last month’s special election in Massachusetts senate race we definitely know people are making it clear they are not satisfied.

Adding to all that is the concern that this economy is weakening. Soon we will have troops returning home after doing 3 and 4 tours of duty which will definitely have left major impact in their thinking. We already know thats a concern from the Fort Hood incident. We also have a bunch of folks from jail that are steadily coming out only to find there’s no job or anything out here for them..With all thats going on, one has to wonder if there will be anymore Joe Stacks.

Below is his /suicide notemanifesto…

Sucide Letter from Joe Stack..

Are there any other Joe Stacks out there?

If you’re reading this, you’re no doubt asking yourself, “Why did this have to happen?” The simple truth is that it is complicated and has been coming for a long time. The writing process, started many months ago, was intended to be therapy in the face of the looming realization that there isn’t enough therapy in the world that can fix what is really broken. Needless to say, this rant could fill volumes with example after example if I would let it. I find the process of writing it frustrating, tedious, and probably pointless… especially given my gross inability to gracefully articulate my thoughts in light of the storm raging in my head. Exactly what is therapeutic about that I’m not sure, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

We are all taught as children that without laws there would be no society, only anarchy. Sadly, starting at early ages we in this country have been brainwashed to believe that, in return for our dedication and service, our government stands for justice for all. We are further brainwashed to believe that there is freedom in this place, and that we should be ready to lay our lives down for the noble principals represented by its founding fathers. Remember? One of these was “no taxation without representation”. I have spent the total years of my adulthood unlearning that crap from only a few years of my childhood. These days anyone who really stands up for that principal is promptly labeled a “crackpot”, traitor and worse.

While very few working people would say they haven’t had their fair share of taxes (as can I), in my lifetime I can say with a great degree of certainty that there has never been a politician cast a vote on any matter with the likes of me or my interests in mind. Nor, for that matter, are they the least bit interested in me or anything I have to say.

Why is it that a handful of thugs and plunderers can commit unthinkable atrocities (and in the case of the GM executives, for scores of years) and when it’s time for their gravy train to crash under the weight of their gluttony and overwhelming stupidity, the force of the full federal government has no difficulty coming to their aid within days if not hours? Yet at the same time, the joke we call the American medical system, including the drug and insurance companies, are murdering tens of thousands of people a year and stealing from the corpses and victims they cripple, and this country’s leaders don’t see this as important as bailing out a few of their vile, rich cronies. Yet, the political “representatives” (thieves, liars, and self-serving scumbags is far more accurate) have endless time to sit around for year after year and debate the state of the “terrible health care problem”. It’s clear they see no crisis as long as the dead people don’t get in the way of their corporate profits rolling in.

And justice? You’ve got to be kidding!

How can any rational individual explain that white elephant conundrum in the middle of our tax system and, indeed, our entire legal system? Here we have a system that is, by far, too complicated for the brightest of the master scholars to understand. Yet, it mercilessly “holds accountable” its victims, claiming that they’re responsible for fully complying with laws not even the experts understand. The law “requires” a signature on the bottom of a tax filing; yet no one can say truthfully that they understand what they are signing; if that’s not “duress” than what is. If this is not the measure of a totalitarian regime, nothing is.

How did I get here?

My introduction to the real American nightmare starts back in the early ‘80s. Unfortunately after more than 16 years of school, somewhere along the line I picked up the absurd, pompous notion that I could read and understand plain English. Some friends introduced me to a group of people who were having ‘tax code’ readings and discussions. In particular, zeroed in on a section relating to the wonderful “exemptions” that make institutions like the vulgar, corrupt Catholic Church so incredibly wealthy. We carefully studied the law (with the help of some of the “best”, high-paid, experienced tax lawyers in the business), and then began to do exactly what the “big boys” were doing (except that we weren’t steeling from our congregation or lying to the government about our massive profits in the name of God). We took a great deal of care to make it all visible, following all of the rules, exactly the way the law said it was to be done.

The intent of this exercise and our efforts was to bring about a much-needed re-evaluation of the laws that allow the monsters of organized religion to make such a mockery of people who earn an honest living. However, this is where I learned that there are two “interpretations” for every law; one for the very rich, and one for the rest of us… Oh, and the monsters are the very ones making and enforcing the laws; the inquisition is still alive and well today in this country.

That little lesson in patriotism cost me $40,000+, 10 years of my life, and set my retirement plans back to 0. It made me realize for the first time that I live in a country with an ideology that is based on a total and complete lie. It also made me realize, not only how naive I had been, but also the incredible stupidity of the American public; that they buy, hook, line, and sinker, the crap about their “freedom”… and that they continue to do so with eyes closed in the face of overwhelming evidence and all that keeps happening in front of them.

Before even having to make a shaky recovery from the sting of the first lesson on what justice really means in this country (around 1984 after making my way through engineering school and still another five years of “paying my dues”), I felt I finally had to take a chance of launching my dream of becoming an independent engineer.

On the subjects of engineers and dreams of independence, I should digress somewhat to say that I’m sure that I inherited the fascination for creative problem solving from my father. I realized this at a very young age.

The significance of independence, however, came much later during my early years of college; at the age of 18 or 19 when I was living on my own as student in an apartment in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. My neighbor was an elderly retired woman (80+ seemed ancient to me at that age) who was the widowed wife of a retired steel worker. Her husband had worked all his life in the steel mills of central Pennsylvania with promises from big business and the union that, for his 30 years of service, he would have a pension and medical care to look forward to in his retirement. Instead he was one of the thousands who got nothing because the incompetent mill management and corrupt union (not to mention the government) raided their pension funds and stole their retirement. All she had was social security to live on.

In retrospect, the situation was laughable because here I was living on peanut butter and bread (or Ritz crackers when I could afford to splurge) for months at a time. When I got to know this poor figure and heard her story I felt worse for her plight than for my own (I, after all, I thought I had everything to in front of me). I was genuinely appalled at one point, as we exchanged stories and commiserated with each other over our situations, when she in her grandmotherly fashion tried to convince me that I would be “healthier” eating cat food (like her) rather than trying to get all my substance from peanut butter and bread. I couldn’t quite go there, but the impression was made. I decided that I didn’t trust big business to take care of me, and that I would take responsibility for my own future and myself.

Return to the early ‘80s, and here I was off to a terrifying start as a ‘wet-behind-the-ears’ contract software engineer… and two years later, thanks to the fine backroom, midnight effort by the sleazy executives of Arthur Andersen (the very same folks who later brought us Enron and other such calamities) and an equally sleazy New York Senator (Patrick Moynihan), we saw the passage of 1986 tax reform act with its section 1706.

For you who are unfamiliar, here is the core text of the IRS Section 1706, defining the treatment of workers (such as contract engineers) for tax purposes. Visit this link for a conference committee report ( regarding the intended interpretation of Section 1706 and the relevant parts of Section 530, as amended. For information on how these laws affect technical services workers and their clients, read our discussion here (


(a) IN GENERAL – Section 530 of the Revenue Act of 1978 is amended by adding at the end thereof the following new subsection:

(d) EXCEPTION. – This section shall not apply in the case of an individual who pursuant to an arrangement between the taxpayer and another person, provides services for such other person as an engineer, designer, drafter, computer programmer, systems analyst, or other similarly skilled worker engaged in a similar line of work.

(b) EFFECTIVE DATE. – The amendment made by this section shall apply to remuneration paid and services rendered after December 31, 1986.


· “another person” is the client in the traditional job-shop relationship.

· “taxpayer” is the recruiter, broker, agency, or job shop.

· “individual”, “employee”, or “worker” is you.

Admittedly, you need to read the treatment to understand what it is saying but it’s not very complicated. The bottom line is that they may as well have put my name right in the text of section (d). Moreover, they could only have been more blunt if they would have came out and directly declared me a criminal and non-citizen slave. Twenty years later, I still can’t believe my eyes.

During 1987, I spent close to $5000 of my ‘pocket change’, and at least 1000 hours of my time writing, printing, and mailing to any senator, congressman, governor, or slug that might listen; none did, and they universally treated me as if I was wasting their time. I spent countless hours on the L.A. freeways driving to meetings and any and all of the disorganized professional groups who were attempting to mount a campaign against this atrocity. This, only to discover that our efforts were being easily derailed by a few moles from the brokers who were just beginning to enjoy the windfall from the new declaration of their “freedom”. Oh, and don’t forget, for all of the time I was spending on this, I was loosing income that I couldn’t bill clients.

After months of struggling it had clearly gotten to be a futile exercise. The best we could get for all of our trouble is a pronouncement from an IRS mouthpiece that they weren’t going to enforce that provision (read harass engineers and scientists). This immediately proved to be a lie, and the mere existence of the regulation began to have its impact on my bottom line; this, of course, was the intended effect.

Again, rewind my retirement plans back to 0 and shift them into idle. If I had any sense, I clearly should have left abandoned engineering and never looked back.

Instead I got busy working 100-hour workweeks. Then came the L.A. depression of the early 1990s. Our leaders decided that they didn’t need the all of those extra Air Force bases they had in Southern California, so they were closed; just like that. The result was economic devastation in the region that rivaled the widely publicized Texas S&L fiasco. However, because the government caused it, no one gave a shit about all of the young families who lost their homes or street after street of boarded up houses abandoned to the wealthy loan companies who received government funds to “shore up” their windfall. Again, I lost my retirement.

Years later, after weathering a divorce and the constant struggle trying to build some momentum with my business, I find myself once again beginning to finally pick up some speed. Then came the .COM bust and the 911 nightmare. Our leaders decided that all aircraft were grounded for what seemed like an eternity; and long after that, ‘special’ facilities like San Francisco were on security alert for months. This made access to my customers prohibitively expensive. Ironically, after what they had done the Government came to the aid of the airlines with billions of our tax dollars … as usual they left me to rot and die while they bailed out their rich, incompetent cronies WITH MY MONEY! After these events, there went my business but not quite yet all of my retirement and savings.

By this time, I’m thinking that it might be good for a change. Bye to California, I’ll try Austin for a while. So I moved, only to find out that this is a place with a highly inflated sense of self-importance and where damn little real engineering work is done. I’ve never experienced such a hard time finding work. The rates are 1/3 of what I was earning before the crash, because pay rates here are fixed by the three or four large companies in the area who are in collusion to drive down prices and wages… and this happens because the justice department is all on the take and doesn’t give a fuck about serving anyone or anything but themselves and their rich buddies.

To survive, I was forced to cannibalize my savings and retirement, the last of which was a small IRA. This came in a year with mammoth expenses and not a single dollar of income. I filed no return that year thinking that because I didn’t have any income there was no need. The sleazy government decided that they disagreed. But they didn’t notify me in time for me to launch a legal objection so when I attempted to get a protest filed with the court I was told I was no longer entitled to due process because the time to file ran out. Bend over for another $10,000 helping of justice.

So now we come to the present. After my experience with the CPA world, following the business crash I swore that I’d never enter another accountant’s office again. But here I am with a new marriage and a boatload of undocumented income, not to mention an expensive new business asset, a piano, which I had no idea how to handle. After considerable thought I decided that it would be irresponsible NOT to get professional help; a very big mistake.

When we received the forms back I was very optimistic that they were in order. I had taken all of the years information to XXXX XXXX, and he came back with results very similar to what I was expecting. Except that he had neglected to include the contents of Sheryl’s unreported income; $12,700 worth of it. To make matters worse, XXXX knew all along this was missing and I didn’t have a clue until he pointed it out in the middle of the audit. By that time it had become brutally evident that he was representing himself and not me.

This left me stuck in the middle of this disaster trying to defend transactions that have no relationship to anything tax-related (at least the tax-related transactions were poorly documented). Things I never knew anything about and things my wife had no clue would ever matter to anyone. The end result is… well, just look around.

I remember reading about the stock market crash before the “great” depression and how there were wealthy bankers and businessmen jumping out of windows when they realized they screwed up and lost everything. Isn’t it ironic how far we’ve come in 60 years in this country that they now know how to fix that little economic problem; they just steal from the middle class (who doesn’t have any say in it, elections are a joke) to cover their asses and it’s “business-as-usual”. Now when the wealthy fuck up, the poor get to die for the mistakes… isn’t that a clever, tidy solution.

As government agencies go, the FAA is often justifiably referred to as a tombstone agency, though they are hardly alone. The recent presidential puppet GW Bush and his cronies in their eight years certainly reinforced for all of us that this criticism rings equally true for all of the government. Nothing changes unless there is a body count (unless it is in the interest of the wealthy sows at the government trough). In a government full of hypocrites from top to bottom, life is as cheap as their lies and their self-serving laws.

I know I’m hardly the first one to decide I have had all I can stand. It has always been a myth that people have stopped dying for their freedom in this country, and it isn’t limited to the blacks, and poor immigrants. I know there have been countless before me and there are sure to be as many after. But I also know that by not adding my body to the count, I insure nothing will change. I choose to not keep looking over my shoulder at “big brother” while he strips my carcass, I choose not to ignore what is going on all around me, I choose not to pretend that business as usual won’t continue; I have just had enough.

I can only hope that the numbers quickly get too big to be white washed and ignored that the American zombies wake up and revolt; it will take nothing less. I would only hope that by striking a nerve that stimulates the inevitable double standard, knee-jerk government reaction that results in more stupid draconian restrictions people wake up and begin to see the pompous political thugs and their mindless minions for what they are. Sadly, though I spent my entire life trying to believe it wasn’t so, but violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer. The cruel joke is that the really big chunks of shit at the top have known this all along and have been laughing, at and using this awareness against, fools like me all along.

I saw it written once that the definition of insanity is repeating the same process over and over and expecting the outcome to suddenly be different. I am finally ready to stop this insanity. Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let’s try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well.

The communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.

The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed.

Joe Stack (1956-2010)


Is this the Beginning of the End for Consolidation? Radio Employee Uprising


Is this the Beginning of the End for Consolidation? Radio Employee Uprising

By Jerry Del Colliano

There is a new spirit I am feeling lately that a movement is underway to take radio back – back from the consolidators who have pillaged it.

But when I say take radio back, I don’t necessarily mean by putting groups of investors together to attempt to buy failed stations from failed consolidators.

It’s more significant than even that.

Friday I shared a story with you about fired San Francisco Cumulus sales rep Brian Mass who was not only shown the door but had it slammed on his attempt to seek unemployment.

Mass eventually sought the services of a New York employment attorney named Robert Ottinger who recently filed a class action suit against Cumulus for employment law violations.

That is, Cumulus did not pay Mass (and apparently others in California) overtime when their sales jobs were allegedly categorized as outside sales when he is alleging that the job by state law definition is an inside sales position. There are also issues that expose Cumulus on expense reimbursements that are tied to the status of an inside or outside sales person.

If Mass prevails in court or through a likely settlement, every Cumulus worker in California affected by their company’s violation of employment law will receive some form of compensation automatically.

And, Ottinger is looking for employees from Cumulus and other consolidators for lawsuits and class action initiatives from additional states.

In the first 24 hours after my story ran, 15 other Cumulus employees contacted Ottinger about either joining the class action suit or seeking to start a separate action of their own. And that’s just the first day’s response. Judging from the email I am receiving, others are preparing to contact Ottinger because he appears to be willing to help them without upfront money or undue risk.

That’s what convinces me that radio people are beginning to take their industry back.

There are plenty of lawsuits-in-waiting for Citadel and Clear Channel as well because mean management is not limited to Cumulus – although they are the industry leader. This Brian Mass may have awakened the people who actually know how to run the consolidators’ radio stations and presented them with the most effective tool to fight back.

The courts.

But now, it’s different.

Clear Channel, Citadel and Cumulus have run roughshod over their people and because the recession and downsizing made it hard for good folks to seek other work in the industry they loved, the “lucky” ones had to put up with it.

Everyone else was laid off – a term that still rankles me because the dictionary defines it as “to dismiss (an employee), esp. temporarily because of slack business” when radio consolidators don’t take this action temporarily.

In fact, some companies, like Cumulus actually have been rehiring on a massive basis – they even brag about it. To them, it is their version of ethnic cleansing except there is no discrimination – Cumulus is an equal opportunity firer.

But now, I believe we are seeing the beginning of the end for radio consolidators especially Clear Channel, Citadel and Cumulus but I’m not leaving out NextMedia or other pretenders who operated from the 3C Playbook.

Think about it.

Cumulus will be tied up for the entire year and maybe longer if more people come forward and sue them. Initially, they don’t have it in their DNA to settle.

This is the start of consolidators on their heels in an area they never saw coming – employment abuses. They got away with it because people needed work.

Now, these same radio people have had it. They are stepping up. I am privy to legal actions being considered by some wronged individuals that are potential major problems for consolidators if they file actions.

So, consolidators may have stolen their licenses from the public interest, convenience and necessity and they may have turned radio into a commodity at the exact worst time possible, but now they will be hamstrung in court by the average Janes and Joes they abused.

In fact, the only way out is to settle class action suits out of court and for those brave souls who will start individual lawsuits, settlement money. If I am seeing this right, in another year or two, the 3Cs will be looking to settle everything in site – lost will be the bravado that comes when the Complaint arrives in the mail.

But there are more changes ahead.

While radio advertising revenues should increase in 2010 and comparables between this year and the abysmal 2009 fiscal year will look favorable, new media will eat up more advertising budget than radio consolidators anticipated. After all, they are the ones who decided to sit out the Internet revolution.

Flat growth – if there is such a term. Well, there is irrational exuberance, isn’t there?

Stations will come on the market again and sell at 1-3 times cash flow – that’s my prediction and you’ve got it in writing.

And why would stations sell so cheaply?

Because consolidators have run radio into the ground, driven listeners and advertisers into the hands of digital media.

And, after all, the equity holders that have taken ownership control in lieu of debt payments cannot make their money unless they generate more fees and you generate fees from selling assets.

One more thing.

Radio people are beginning to move on.

I saw that at my Media Solutions Lab where impressive radio execs and talent were hot on the trail of new media. Paths to new media will become more apparent as the next year or two unfolds.

So you see radio people are beginning to believe that they can have a management, sales or programming career in digital media at the same time failed consolidators get bogged down with a flat-ad market and an increasing docket of employee lawsuits.

My mother used to always remind me that “every dog has its day” and for talented and loyal radio managers, programmers, sales people and talent, I am here to tell you I see signs that your day is coming.

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Black History Fact: Exploring the Historic Links of Early Hip-Hop and Gang Culture


Exploring the Historic Links of Early Hip-Hop and Gang Culture
by Davey D

According to the popular narrative, hip-hop grew out of gang culture in the South Bronx.

One of its pioneers – gang leader Afrika Bambaataa, who had turned his life around – used hip-hop to get people out of gangs and into something more positive.

Bambaataa had led a division of the Black Spades in the Bronx River Houses project before deciding to take his followers in a new direction, first by forming “the Organization“.

” Later, after learning about the Zulus of South Africa, who fought colonial rule, Bambaataa transformed the Organization into the Mighty Zulu Nation, now known as the Universal Zulu Nation.

It remains not only the oldest but the largest hip-hop organization, with chapters on every continent and tens of thousands of members.

Now on many levels that very familiar narrative is true. However, it’s so much more complicated. Most people when they hear this tend to gloss over the full significance of the gangs. Very few of us Hip Hop aficionados have rarely taken time to see how Bambaataa’s actions came about.

We don’t ask how gang culture played a role in birthing Hip Hop? Did Bambaataa bring about this turn around as a part of some government program or did he do this on his own? Was Bambaataa the only gang leader striving for positive change? Who were the other gangs and gang leaders alongside and before Bambaataa? Were the gangs in the 1970s the same as the gangs we read and hear about today in the news which are often depicted as violent prone and conduits for drugs, murder and mayhem?

Nobody will deny that much of what is reported is not true in particular instances but there is another side to the story.

Many of us caught a glimpse of that ‘other story’ when we read Bay Area author Jeff Chang‘s award winning book ‘Can’t Stop Won’t Stop A History of the Hip Hop Generation‘.

Here Chang loaned some keen insight into the Ghetto Brothers which was major Bronx gang that preceded the birth of Hip Hop.

Chang’s chronicling of the Ghetto Brothers brought to light some very important facts that are often overlooked including how highly organized the early Bronx gangs were and how they were highly influenced and politicized by the Black Panther Party and the Young Lords.

War councils, peace treaties and the forming alliances were highly structured with very few things done haphazardly. Many of the gangs were about protecting the community from the police, marauding racist white gangs that resented Blacks and Puerto Ricans moving into their rapidly integrating neighborhoods, drug addicts and drug dealers.

The most important facet Chang brought to life is the 1971 Gang Truce which was designed to unite all of the city’s gangs.

This historic gang truce was said to be loosely depicted in the opening scenes of the cult movie classic ‘Warriors‘ with the movie’s large dominant gang ‘The Rifts being a combination of the real life Ghetto Brothers and the Black Spades-New York’s largest gang.

This past month (June 28 2008) at the Mitchell Housing projects in New York’s infamous South Bronx, those of us who are dedicated to unearthing and preserving Hip Hop history and culture were treated to a landmark moment. Former gang members came from all over the city and throughout the country to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Black Spades. It was an incredible sight to behold and gave folks an opportunity to soak up history that has long been hidden.

To start, the Spades came together because over the past few years many of the former members either through Zulu Nation or within their own organizations have been working to bring about peace and provide guidance to young people who have become attracted to New York’s new gang problem which consist of many west coast and Chicago gangs like the Bloods, Crips, MS13, Latin Kings and others.

Hip Hop dance pioneer Popmaster Fabel and a member of the East Harlem street organization the Savage Samuri, pointed out the irony of how Hip Hop provided a cultural imperative through traditional dance, music and artistic traditions helped move people away from the destructive aspects of gang life. Today through corporate co-option of the culture which manifests itself in the continuous highlighting of death instead of life, so much of commercial Hip Hop has now become a draw for youngsters to get involved with gangs.

Fabel who is putting the finishing touches of his ground breaking film ‘Apache Line From Gangs to Hip Hop‘ took time to explain in great detail why it was important to understand the inner workings of the street organizations that gave birth to Hip Hop. Fabel doesn’t use the word gang because he sees it as a media driven term that was attached to young Black and Latino youths who saw the older leadership in their community came decimated in the 1970s through the FBI’s Cointel-pro program, the Vietnam War, and War on Youth which later morphed into the War on Drugs.

Fabel painstaking details in his film how in the backdrop of that cultural and social devastation young people at that time attempted to find their voice and identity and a sense of family within the early Bronx street organizations.

Fabel then introduced me to Karate Charlie the former president of the Ghetto Brothers and prominently featured in Fabel’s film. Charlie who looks like someone in his 60s talked about how he was a former marine who went AWOL when he saw how the government had destroyed the Black Panthers and Young Lords and other leaders in the community. He talked about how it was disturbing to him to be fighting a war overseas when there was a war at home being waged on Black and Brown communities.

“I took off my government uniform and put on the uniform of the Ghetto Brothers and went about protecting our community”, Karate Charlie said.

He then talked emphatically about how he and others would teach everyone martial arts and to speak Spanish. He talked about how they fought to make sure heroin which was flooding the community much like crack did in the 80s would be kept out along with the dealers and addicts.

He also talked about how the Ghetto Brothers would patrol the subways and protect people long before Curtis Sliwa and the Guardian Angels came along.

Karate Charlie of the Ghetto Brothers has just written a book called ‘I Smile to Keep from Crying‘. He ended by talking about how it was important that they tell their own stories and not have outsiders come along and exploit them and their message. Many of the Spades were guarded and wanted to make sure that the message of the day was unity and changing lives, not glamorizing death and mayhem.

Charlie’s story were reiterated throughout the day by other gang members who talked about how they saw themselves as children to the Panthers and Young Lords who really wanted to make a change and found themselves dealing with overwhelming forces outside their control. On the stage alongside the Spade pictures and memorabilia were old flyers of the Black Panthers and Young Lords.

As I listened to these stories I couldn’t help but draw parallels to what was depicted in the film ‘Bastards of the Party‘ put out by Bone who is a member of the LA Bloods and traced the groups history. His story had some much similarity to what these old Bronx gang members were talking about.

Fabel pointed out how many of the early gangs had a cultural elements that they used to communicate and express themselves. The Ghetto Brothers had a band that actually put out records.

The Black Spades adapted James Brown and changed the lyrics to his song Soul Power to ‘Spade Power‘. We saw that actually demonstrated that afternoon with some of the Spades doing their original dances. As I watched it you could not help note that long before the infamous Crip walk and Blood dances that are ritualistically done by gangs today and glorified by rappers in their videos, the street tribes before them had their own dances. As Fabel pointed out it what we were seeing was an example of that cultural imperative. He too later joined the circle and danced and showed off the moves that he had picked up from the generation before him.

Perhaps the most incredible moment of the afternoon came when Karate Charlie came together and hooked up with Bam Bam who was an original leader of the Black Spades 1st division and the person who gave Afrika Bambaataa permission to use the name Bam. The pair had not seen each other in close to 40 years when they came together and attempted to put together the 1971 Gang Truce. Bam spoke passionately about what it meant when they all came together to unify. He talked about how the Spades protected the community. He then addressed the younger members and told them its easy to take a life, but if one is really tough try saving one. If you’re really tough try living instead of dying. Words cannot describe what was taking place.

Fabel reiterated that Hip Hop came out of the government’s attempt to crush leadership in our communities. What he talked about that afternoon clearly underscored what we heard from Spade members which is-Unity amongst disenfranchised and marginalized communities was and continues to be threatening to many who wish to keep the status quo.

But at long last many of these stories are finally coming to light in the movie Apache Line.

Fabel did his movie after coming face to face with a young Blood gang member in his class where he teaches. He saw this young man who was on a path to self destruction and wanted to help him and others like him out. Hence he spent the last few years meticulously documenting the culture and people who came before him who were in gangs. Fabel has been troubled by the Hollywoodizing of inner city gang culture which has stripped away the deeper meanings and messages. His film will force folks to go in a new direction.

Another highlight of the afternoon was talking with original Zulu King and B-Boy Charlie Rock who was once a member of Black Spades 22cd division. He talked about the early gangs like the Black Spades evolved into the Zulu Nation and later Hip Hop’s early crews. In our interview he identified many of the early Hip Hop Crews and talked about the gangs that they came from or were most likely affiliated with…

Charlie Rock

Rock also talked about how the Spades and other large gangs came under-fire from the police with some of the members assassinated. He talked about the police killings of members Wildman, Soulski and Meathead Ron.

Rock saw those murderers as part and parcel to the attacks and killings that were simultaneously happening to Panthers, Young Lords and other Black Liberation organizations. He talked about how the police hung him over a roof top and threatened to kill him. He attributed these attacks to the fact that the Black Spades were willing to confront the police and that the gang was so large and organized. They were a threat and he felt there was an attempt to cripple them by killing off members.

Rock reminded us that the Black Spades and other groups were not alone in the Bronx. There was a litany of white gangs who had proceeded them and in fact used to start trouble with groups like the Spades until they began dominating. In our interview Charlie Rock talks about white gangs like the Golden Guineas, The Ministers, the White Angels and the White Assassins. He also talked about how the police would sometimes help these white gangs in attacking the Black Spades.  Rock’s remarks were deep and reminded me of the stories we heard surrounding the origins of Black gangs in LA and in Chicago. At the center were white gangs and police reigning terror on the community. Rock speaks to this issue in our interview..

Below are some interviews we did during the 40th anniversary gathering of the Black Spades. We caught up with many of the members including original leader Bam Bam who gave Afrika Bambaataa his name. We spoke with Hip Hop legend Popmaster Fabel who is finishing up a documentary on early gang culture called ‘The Apache Line‘. We also hear from Karate Charlie who was the former President of the Ghetto Brothers

We talk with Hip Hop legend Popmaster Fabel who talks to us about the important role early gang culture played in bringing Hip Hop to life. We also talk about how pop culture is exploiting gang life and leading people astray. Fabel explianed that early Hip Hop got people out of the gangs.. Today’s rap music gets people into them..We hear an impassioned Bam Bam, orginal leader of the Black Spades speaking to young gangbangers in New York, Crips, Bloods, Latin Kings etc and explaining the direction they should really be taking.. His words of warning are very powerful…

At the 40th Anniversary of the Black Spades we see Bam Bam re-uniting and talking with Karate Charlie after 40 years.  They talk about how the two gangs merged together to stop the Hells Angels from coming into the Bronx and stepping to another gang….We chop it up with Popmaster Fabel about his new documentary The Apache Line from gangs to Hip Hop.. We also talk to him about the current move to try and pit Black against Brown.. Fabel gives a history of why that happens and talks about how early Black and Brown gangs came together.We also speak with Karate Charlie who is featured in Fabel’s documentary about the legacy of the Ghetto Brothers. He talks about how the Black Spades the Ghetto Brothers united and became a family. He also talked about how they protected the community against the police..

We caught up with original B-Boy and Zulu Charlie Rock who hails from the 22cd division of the Black Spades up on Gun Hill road in the Bronx.. He talks about how the Black Spades evolved and became the Zulu Nation..He talks about Disco King Mario and the founding Spade chapters at Bronxdale Housing project which was known as Chuck City…He also talks about a segregated New York,  the white gangs and corrupt police that waged war on the Black Spades.

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

Former Green Party Vice Presidential Candidate Rosa Clemente Running for NY State Senate


Renowned speaker, community organizer, journalist, radio show host & 2008 Vice Presidential candidate Rosa Clemente is running for New York State Senate in the Bronx!

This important campaign is a concerted effort with the Black & Brown power movements and working class people of the world uniting for political power. Join Rosa and special guest performers and speakers for a night of change.

Friends of Rosa Clemente and the Bronx Green Party are asking supporters to donate generously up to the legal amount and come prepared to join the team as we embark on a fun and exciting grassroots campaign. Please make checks payable to “Friends of Rosa Clemente”. Debit/Credit cards will be accepted. For more information, please contact Omowale at 917-239-8992 or


Here’s some insights from Rosa.. She pulls no punches..

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

**Updates** (Feb 22) on AC Transit Fight in Oakland Intvs w/ Epic Beard (Tom) & Blackman (Coolio)


*Update* Feb 22 2010

Wild 94.9 the radio station tracked down Michael (Coolio) who got pummeled by Epic Beard aka Tom Slick.. Lots of eye opening information which has since been confirmed.. For starters Michael is not a murderer or on parole. he’s 50 years old and has some other things to reveal..

Apparently this racially charged fight between ‘Willie Nelson’ and ‘Coolio’ on an AC transit bus in Oakland has taken off and has become a national story… Below is a recent article and I am including more recent videos including one with the white dude… who we now know as Tom Slick aka Tom Bruso a former Vietnam vet who spent 14 years in prison and has a history of mental problems.

Aside from the salacious nature of this incident is a larger picture which has resulted in Bruso being heralded as a hero in spite of his reputation primarily because he beat a ‘Black guy who came across as a thug and for many this is a victory and some sort of vindication… Out of control Black inner city youth have become more frightening to the average American of all races including other Blacks, then Al Qaeda, organized crime  and vicious drug cartels. The image of the Black bogey man has been ingrained in the minds of Americans since the days of slavery. It came to fruition with Haitian slaves overthrowing their French slave masters resulting in Thomas Jefferson putting in place crippling policies that have continued to this day. It came to fruition with slaves turned preacher turned insurgent like Nat Turner resulting in government officials crafting laws and keeping special tabs on ‘Black troublemakers’ which has continued throughout the centuries under different names including Cointel-Pro… In short what should’ve been a simple fight has come to represent so much more within many people’s consciousness.

-Davey D-

Here’s the interview with Tom Slick aka Vietnam Tom

** New interview** (Feb 22 2010

Below is the interview w/ Michael.. The Brother who got into fight with Tom Slick... Seems like this story unfolds even more. Michael insist that Tom made a racist remark. Brother man also says he’s not on parole or a murderer…

Here’s a national news article and accompanying videos on this..

(Feb. 19) — From the YouTube video, this much is clear: It was a comment about shoe shining that sent the ugly set of events spiraling out of control, culminating in a racially charged fist fight between an older white man and a younger black man on an Oakland, Calif., bus Monday afternoon.

By this afternoon, more than 30,000 people had watched the fight unfold on YouTube. But the exact series of events leading up to the fight remained unclear. Because while the drama of the encounter — down to the racial epithets and the blood on the bus’s plastic blue seats — was captured on camera, the most basic facts of the event were not.

The video is confusing, incomplete. So viewers were largely left to piece together the facts of the bloody fight on their own, which they did through an interesting mix of competing YouTube videos, reporting and blogs.

According to witnesses, including Iyanna Washington, the college student who recorded the fight, the white man, who was identified by The Oakland Tribune as 67-year-old Thomas Bruso, taunted the younger black man and asked him to shine his shoes. “The white guy was asking the black guy for a shoeshine,” Washington told CBS. “And I guess the black guy took it as a racist comment, like, ‘Why’s a black guy have to spit shine your shoes?'”

In the video, the two men continue to exchange insults. Finally, the black man throws a punch. The white man then begins to pummel him until he exits the bus shouting “He hit me!” and leaves the black man on the bus floor with a bloody nose.

AC Transit Spokesman Clarence Johnson told CBS that both men were taken to the hospital and later released with minor injuries. He said the black man had a bloody nose, and the white man had been off of his meds.

“We hate for this sort of thing to happen,” Johnson said. “Our buses transport 236,000 passengers on a daily basis and these types of things are not commonplace.”

On YouTube, competing narratives of the fight began to take hold.

Racist comments, lots of them, began to pop up on the YouTube page. “Typical day in the Urban Jungle,” one commenter wrote. “Typical N*****. Always so full of hate and anger,” another wrote. “This is a perfect example as to why racism will never die. They do it to themselves. Won’t they ever learn?”

Zennie Abraham, a blogger for the San Francisco Chronicle, said the debate surrounding the video was “dominated by racists and nuts cases:”

“With all of that some observers have proven they’re just as much animals as the men in the video. The talk of some is to crown the old white man as some kind of hero, when it’s obvious he’s some kind of nut job. Some people report the AC Transit Bus Fight as if it’s a victory for whites against some boogie man who’s black. All of this has become a discussion seemingly dominated by racists and nuts cases. Since racism is a mental illness, it’s hard to tell them apart.”

Then, another video emerged. Bruso, the older man, had been featured in a hit YouTube video before, when he was arrested at an Oakland A’s baseball game in August for disorderly conduct and police used a Taser on him. “This guy is epic,” one commenter said.

Tuesday, Iyanna Washington, the student who taped the bus fight, posted an apology on YouTube.

“I am the filmer of the video AC transit police bus fight,” she said facing into the camera. “Lately I’ve been getting really hammered by the bloggers and the harsh YouTube and news critics about the video so I want to first clear a few things up.”

Washington denied rumors that she had stolen anything from the older man’s bag and apologized to “anyone who took offense to any part of this video.”

But she had another message for those watching as well.

“It’s a sad thing, but this is real life; people actually, you know, people say and do things like this every day,” she said. “It’s just the parts that we catch on camera that really get seen.”

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