Saturday, May 30, 2009

Alex Forbes

is not a world champion air guitarist. He is very close to being one, and certainly is higher ranked than anyone reading this, except for Forbes himself. Tonight he goes to Philly for a very serious event, if he wins, he will be only a few steps away from being the best air guitarist in the world. You may think, oh air guitar, who cares, but being the best air guitar player in the world still means there is something you do better than anyone else in the entire world. It's amazing and an honor to be able to call someone with such superior ablity in his field my friend.

So if you're in Philly tonight, I'm guessing the plan is to be mean to everyone you see, go see Forbes, then be mean again, maybe stop at Pat's on the way home.

What a punchline, no?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A photo and a song

Friday, May 22, 2009

New Best Song Ever

BBU - Chi Don't Dance

And to think I thought the juke craze ended in 07.

Holy shit.
Mark Yoshizumi, thanks for making my May.

Listen here

Download here

To be played loud and on repeat.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The amazing story behind the amazing sauce.

Wow, the story I've been waiting my whole life to read, now brought to us by the nytimes.

“I was in Boston,” Mr. Tran recalled. “My brother-in-law was in Los Angeles. When we talked on the phone, I asked him, ‘Do they have red peppers in Los Angeles?’ He said yes. And we left.”
“I landed the first week of January in 1980,” he added. “By February, I was making sauce.”

Mr. Tran did not anticipate the popularity of his take on sriracha. He believed the sauce to be good. He took pride in the augers and other apparatuses he designed for the plant. He liked to tell people that all he did was grind peppers, add garlic and bottle it.
He figured that immigrants of Vietnamese ancestry would stock his sriracha at pho shops. He hoped that the occasional American consumer might squirt it on hot dogs and hamburgers.

He could never have expected what he found, one recent afternoon, as he trolled the Internet in search of what fans of his sauce have wrought.

Mr. Tran scanned pictures of 20-something women in homemade Halloween costumes designed to resemble the Huy Fong bottle. He navigated to one of two sriracha Facebook pages, the larger of which has more than 120,000 fans.

He retrieved a favorite picture, of Travis Mason, a 36-year-old coffee salesman from Portland, Ore., who commissioned a tattoo of the Huy Fong logo on his left calf. “I’m always interested in what they do,” Mr. Tran said, his voice filled with genuine wonderment.

The rest HERE.
As far as I'm concerned, an older, humble, Asian man looking back and admiring his life's accomplishements could be the single greatest thing about America.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I'll be on it night man

Goats and a lesson learned.

Wherever we go, we are usually accompanied by Jean Bosco, head prosecutor of the genocide tracking unit, and Joseph, whose job remains unclear, but he's somewhere up there "external intelligence." A week ago, we went to a small village to interview a bunch of witnesses.

Too get to the point of the story, whilst interviewing one guy, Jean Bosco burst out laughing, and hard. I started laughing, and for the rest of the day, every time I looked at him I would laugh. And it sucked, because the people we were talking to were shook. They didn't want to talk and were being really cautious about what they said. So a few days later when it was time to re-interview the guy, Bosco, Joseph and I left. We knew if we stayed there we would all laugh and the interview would be ruined.

They took me to a road stop with a couple buildings functioning as temporary housing for highway workers and some kids roasting corn over a charcoal grill. We bought some roasted corn and I began eating it when insanity erupted. Joseph started screaming, pointing at the corn and then he broke the corn in half and threw it on the ground. He went into a huge bag of corn on the cob sitting next to the grill. He would pull out a piece of corn and then drop it close to him or chuck it aside. He did this till there were seven corn in his pile. Keep in mind the whole time he was screaming. I was getting a simultaneous translation but couldn't stop laughing. This corn was too small, the other corn too rough, the other corn too bitter (which you can gauge by "the feel in the fingers when the corns are squeezed") the other corn too sweet..... I could not stop laughing.

The kids ran out of charcoal so we drove to a village five minutes away to find a place to roast the newly acquired corn. We pull into this village while and their local market is ending. We give the corn to some kids who take it away, I mean they come up to the car, Joseph yells some shit, they take the corn out lf the trunk and go roast it. It struck me as amazing that in Rwanda you can pick a village off hand and assume they possess corn roasting facilities.

We pull into the village in a white Mercedes with the tape player blasting the Rwandan national anthem. Blasting. Everyone runs up to the car to see the combination of gov't officials, Mercedes, and white kid in the back. It was a surreal African moment seen only in the movies.

I wanted to see where the corn was being made, and I walked through a series of alleys to find a room with a huge stove/charcoal grill thing, a couple of pots, and a skinned carcass of a dead goat hanging in the corner. I was immediately offered some of the goat meat on a stick, and it was great. This was not my first goat on a stick, nor my last. Nor was it my last of that day. Looking at the goat while eating the goat posed some ethical dilemma for me, especially since the night before I was listening to the song on the new Propgandhi album where they talk about having a dinner party and eating people that eat meat because meat is not to be eaten.

Then something really cool happened. I still thought it was so surreal the way we rolled into the village, it reminded me of some bad African ruler showing off for the locals type shit, but it wasn't. An old man came up to me and started speaking in Kinrwandan and I couldn't understand a word. All of a sudden, my two hosts get really upset and start yelling at him. I had assumed he asked me for money and they told him no way, don't ask, but I was only half right. He did ask me for money, but what made them mad wasn't that he asked me, but because he didn't ask them.

They went off on him about how just because I'm white doesn't mean I have money, I'm with them, why would he assume I have more money than these two guys who just rolled up in a Mercedes? They went on and on about how this mean needs to lift himself out of his colony mentality (their words not mine) and how Rwanda has done so much to try and get people out of that way of thinking, and how Rwandans at large are free of that mindset. Half the village joined the debate and agreed.

It was interesting.

As soon as I can figure out a way to a) convert the 100 photos that were taken on raw because a guy switched my camera settings back to jpg and keep them big enough to post or b) fix it so when i click on a photo I don't get an exclamation point (which worries me, have I lost my photos?) I will post all the photos from Africa. Till then, they come a few at a time.

Fela - Colonial Mentality FIRE!

Mobb Deep - Shook Ones Pt II

Tuesday, May 12, 2009



Yesterday we went to interview a guy whose been in prison since August of 94 for crimes committed during the genocide. We arrived at the prison, and every single thing after that was a first for me. For starters, we went to go speak to the prison warden by just walking right in through an open prison door. There was a gate and a few guys with guns guarding it, and as we walked through I stopped to check in with them and to submit to a search etc, and they all looked at me like I was out of my mind. They said over and over again in French to go right in, just go right in. Waiting and talking to the warden took about twenty, thirty minutes, and in the course of this half-hour I had to go from the prison to our car a bunch of times, and every time I left or walked back into the prison, I would just waltz in and waltz out like I was leaving a friend's house.

At one point, while I was coming back from the car, a huge number of prisoners were returning from their work detail. I stood at the entrance waiting for the prisoners to be checked through the gate and my guide, the prison officials, and the prisoners themselves all started laughing. In their eyes, for me to stand there and wait to be checked in was nothing short of absurd.

The prisoner we interviewed wanted to talk to us outside of the prison, and I went with my guide to request permission from the warden who literally said of course with a gesture alone. And here comes the best part. We talked about where we could go in town where he would feel safe, and we settled on a government building five minutes away. The warden asked me how long it would take to setup the cameras and I said not that long, ten, 15 minutes or so, and he said something about how he didn't want to keep us waiting cause it might take the prisoner a bit long to get to where we're going. And I said I thought it was only five minutes away, and he said, sure five minutes by car, but to walk is much longer. And that's when I said, " WHAT? he's gonna walk there? By himself?" The warden could see I was shocked and I asked, "what if he escapes?" And my guide and the warden just burst out laughing and the warden screamed with laughter and in English, "escape? To where is he gonna go?"

So then the warden tells me if I would be more comfortable, we can just drive him there ourselves. I was dumbfounded. And I'm sure it showed. I think he thought I was worried about transporting a killer in our car so he offered to send a guard with us. I said, look, I need a guard because if we put a prisoner on a tv show just walking around with no guard, no one will ever believe this guy is an actual prisoner. Will the guard be armed? "Sure, if you want him to?"

So then we shot the prisoner and the guard walking out of the prison towards us and the whole time, the prisoner and the guard were laughing their ass off because he's never actually guarded someone, one on one, with a gun, in that way before, and the prisoner had never been guarded in that way either, and so the whole thing was just hysterical to the two of them. At one point, the prisoner and the guard got into a conversation and the prisoner showed the guard what he thought was the most believable way to hold a gun on a prisoner, aka himself.

It was a hell of a day to say the least. There were long conversations about the Rwandan prison system on the way home to say the least. Photos to follow.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Back to Africa #2

The coolest thing about going to Africa is when you go again to Africa you get to say you are "going back to Africa," because in reality, this is very true. You have been once, now you are going back to a place you once were.

Here is a song by the Meters about going back to Africa. I'm positive when they say back, they mean it literally, not figuratively. The had a good time and they want to go again.

The Meters - Africa

And here's a song by Denis Brown, he wants to go once.

Denis Brown - Africa

Clearly, it's a lot easier for me to relate to the first song.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Back to Africa

I'm back in Africa. I flew to London and didn't sleep at all and then I flew from there to Nairobi and all I did was sleep and now it's nighttime and I cant' sleep.

Since then I got off the plane and walked to the visa station. Last year it cost 50 bucks, this year they have "cut the price in half" to ten dollars. But come on, who am i to argue. It is worth noting back when it cost 50, the whole process was a lot quicker. There was a lot of standing around and waiting tonight. When I finally made it through I grabbed my luggage and walked through customs without even knowing it. A customs official told me of my mistake, I turned around, literally did little more than a 360 and he asked me where I flew from, I told him London, and he just waved me forward. Keep in mind, the customs station was more like a bench you put your bag on and a dude standing there. I'm not saying the Naroibi airport ain't all that, it's a modern airport with every type of convince excluding air-condintioning that one would want in an airport, I'm just saying their customs shit is confusing.

At the airport, Jimmy, who worked with us a year ago picked me up. He brought a cooler filled with cold Tusker, a great Kenyan beer, and it was one of the most thoughtful things that has ever been done for me.

When I was here a year ago, they had started working on a highway from the airport into the city. Nairobi has the worst traffic of all time. The major contributing problem is all roads pass through the city center, nothing bypasses it. This road being built last year was aimed weave around the city, but they didn't get that far. What they did do was a miracle. A year ago there were a heap of rocks and some dirt and one day it was going to be a road, I'm amazed at how far this highway has come.

The other big change I noticed, not so many Indians. A year ago, the place was practically overrun by Indians. I didn't see too many tonight, although I did eat a samosa at a place I stopped at downtown.

More to come.

Monday, May 4, 2009

More Don Rickles

Do you guys know about Hulu? It's awesome. Not only can you watch every episode or The Office and Rescue Me, but they also have a bunch of documentaries, including but not limited to "Mr. Warmth, The Don Rickles Project," which is, well, a documentary about Don Rickles.

There's some great old footage, a lot of people talking about Don Rickles, and also, Don Rickles himself, talking about his life. Some amazing clips include:

Him giving it to Ronald Reagan, while Reagan was President of America the great.
Saying some very mean things about Dean Martin.
A tonight show appearance where he comes on, doesn't bother to even acknowledge Johnny Carson, (when Carson tries to shake his hand he simply let's him shake his index finger) and making the biggest deal ever about getting to meet Ed McMahon.
Martin Scorsese laughing in a way you've never seen a person laugh in your life.


here's some more

Don Rickles also giving it to Reagan when he was governor of California, gets great around 2:45

Don Rickles giving it to Sammy Davis Jr.
"The day they don't make fun of you that means they don't give a damn about you." - Sammy Davis Jr.

And here it is, Don Rickles giving it to Reagan at his 2nd inaugural ball at that. Keep in mind the first joke he tells is the first joke he's telling at the innugration of a president. I'd call it pushing the envelope.