Friday, August 31, 2012

August 30th - Anniversaries to Remember

August 30th is a day that always means a lot to me. Thanks to Twitter, it now has two meanings (or 3?) and amidst a day of reflection, I was able to think about this a bit closer.

8/30/02. The 10th anniversary of the day I moved into my dorm to start my college years. I woke up in a hotel in La Jolla with clouds in the sky and looked outside the window not sure what to expect that day. I had nerves and butterflies because while I knew folks who went to college, I wasn't close enough to fully experience that lifestyle. All I had were my ideas and dreams.

My family packed in my Dad's BMW and we drove down the I-5 to the University of San Diego. On my headphones, I was listening to Incubus' "Morning View", one of the albums that put me in the mood for being away from home. We drove up to Maher Hall and saw all the folks unpacking their cars and shuffling boxes and suitcases all around. I stepped out nervous but excited because I was finally here. Finally a college kid.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Morning Jones - One Year Gone, Never Forgotten

It’s been a year since The Morning Jones left the airwaves of The Score on August 30, 2011. A year since the show that changed how I forever listened to sports and talk radio was done.

A year later, it still looms large because of the people who made that show possible. Not just the host Bomani Jones or producers Corey Erdman and Sacha Kargl, but the listeners who added to the vibe as much as the three of them. But TMJ starts and ends with those three, mainly Bomani and his vision in a place where few other Black media figures have been.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Fishbone Friday!!!! Party at Saint Rocke

The best way I can describe seeing Fishbone live? Just letting go and giving in to the music. Midway through the set, lead singer Angelo Moore was asked to take off his wig. But he said no because... “We’ve already crossed that line of ridiculousness and we can’t go back now!" That's how I'd describe being in their show.

I've been a Fishbone fan since 2004 and the one I heard that defines them more than their music is their live show. Fans told me that they were outrageous live and hearing their albums doesn't do their shows justice. So when I had the chance to see them for only $15 in Hermosa Beach, I jumped at the chance. Even better that I found out my old college roommate would be meeting me and my lady there.

What happened over the next two hours? Pure energy and madness. Mosh pits and wild times!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Social Media as Branding: Effective or Slightly Flawed?

 (Photo by Evan Barnes - Taken from 2012 NABJ Convention Program)
Is Brand Identity More Important than the Person Behind It?

I thought about this when I attended the recent meeting for the Black Journalists Association of Southern California and our speaker’s topic was on using social media to better market you as a journalist. It built off a panel I attended at NABJ that discussed the same thing.

I’ve heard people talk about branding for the last few years. Whether it be on Twitter, at conferences or wherever, that seems to be the new buzz word. I’ve always resisted it and a friend made it clear when he said brands are products but people are people.

Sure I promote myself as a former journalist/current writer who has ethics and a nose for being right before fast, cutting the BS and talking straight about what I’m passionate about. But I figure that’s just something I do naturally, not in an attempt to market myself.

Even when I worked at the LA Sentinel, my boss would often talk about branding myself as a HS sports guy and writing columns because that would give me an identity.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Electric Relaxation: Channel Orange

A month ago, I wrote about "Pyramids" - Frank Ocean's nearly 10-minute ode to the past/present/queens/strippers/Egypt/and more. Despite my initial thoughts on the song, it didn't take away from the fact that Channel Orange was one of the most anticipated albums of the year for me and I still wanted to hear it in depth.

That review would be overshadowed by Ocean revealing his past with another man and him dealing with the heartbreak of that love not being fully reciprocated. Surprisingly, I saw most respond to this very well. It said a lot that in this day and age, a male R&B singer's career isn't in jeopardy from who he loves.

That brings me to Channel Orange. I wasn't sure what to expect from it but since I loved Nostalgia/Ultra, I knew was going to be quality. What I didn't expect was that it was so similar in mood despite touching on different themes.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Grinds My Gears: Overvaluing Preseason Football (Or Any Sport)

Been a while since I've had a reason to bring this back but this past week or so reminded me about something that has bugged me for years. Why do we place so much value on a preseason performance or game?

Every year, you hear "So-and-so is making their professional debut" but it's in a PRESEASON game. Andrew Luck, for example, played his first game as a professional last week and threw for a TD on his first pass. That's great but it's not his debut. It doesn't count in his stat sheet. Yes he got paid for it like everyone else but it's no different than a scrimmage in pads.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Olympics 2012: A Fortnight of Memories (Joy in Repetition Rewarded)

And just like that, the 2012 London Olympics are over and done. A fortnight (two weeks for us non-London folks) has passed and memories have been forged in time. I've already done extensive pieces on my favorite moments so I'll leave you with quick hits on a few more.

Kirani James's win in the 400m. The 1st ever gold medal for Grenada. A 19 year old kid with the weight of an entire country on his shoulders and he carried it proudly.

My dude Cullen Jones racked up two more medals. A silver in the 4 x 100 freestyle relay and his first individual medal - silver in the 50 freestyle.

Cuba's Felix Sanchez wins the 400m hurdles and sheds tears for his late grandmother. I almost wanted to hug him as he bawled during his national anthem. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Dwight Howard's a Laker (But I'm Not Celebrating Yet)

While London slept during the Olympics, Dwight Howard stole the thunder like Prometheus stole fire from the gods. His two-year trade saga ended with him coming to the Lakers and normally I'd be celebrating, especially since Andrew Bynum got shipped out. But for some reason, I can't.

Even before this free agent saga turned embarrassing on Dwight and the Magic's part, I wrote in 2011 that the Lakers need a quality point guard (Chris Paul) before getting a big man. My point was that the Lakers needed perimeter speed and despite Pau Gasol's softness/Andrew Byunm's aloofness, they were still one of the NBA's best front courts.

Well they filled that need with Steve Nash earlier this summer. I still wasn't totally thrilled, but it finally gave the Lakers another ball-handler and offensive creator. It didn't solve their defensive issues and that was a bigger problem to me.

So now that they got the best rebounder/defender in the league, I should be jumping out the window right? For some reason, I just can't. Something doesn't feel right.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Usain Bolt: The Man, The Champion, The Legend

What more can you say? Usain Bolt came to London to be a legend and he did just that. The World's Fastest Man to defend his title in the 100/200 meters and neither race was close. He came, he saw, he conquered.

In the 100, he dusted arguably the greatest field ever by .12 with an Olympic record of 9.63 seconds. Unbelievable that Tyson Gay runs a 9.8 and doesn’t even medal. This might be more impressive than 2008 considering this field was miles better and he was challenged.

He followed that up in the 200 with even more insanity. He won his heat easily without breaking a sweat. Then in the final, he got out quick and left everyone behind to enjoy that cruise to immortality. 19.32 seconds tied what Michael Johnson did in 1996 to set the world record.

This was supposed to be the year he was challenged. His training partner Yohan Blake beat him at the World Championships and the Jamaican trials in the 100/200. Justin Gatlin was back from being suspended and running in top form in the 100. Tyson Gay was healthy and motivated. There’s no way that Bolt would repeat his effort right??

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Congrats Allyson Felix: Finally Golden!!

I’m so happy for Allyson Felix. Somebody that I’ve watched for 11-12 years has grown up into a gold medalist! The two-time silver medalist finally won her signature event, the 200 meters and all I can think about is how great she has been.

I remember hearing about her my senior year of HS in 2002. She brought a lot of attention to our sister school, Los Angeles Baptist. Quite a few of my elementary school friends went there so I was happy to see their school get national attention. When I graduated, she won the 100 and 200 meters at the state meet.  Next year, she’d repeat in both for her 4th and 5th state title, shattering Marion Jones’ national record in the 200 meters.

I was so excited to see her at the 2004 Olympics and when she won silver, I figured it was a matter of time before she got gold. Every race she ran, I saw her with pride because she was representing the small school I almost attended.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Congrats Venus and Serena! (Golden Girls Remix)

Deja Vu never looked so good.
Four years ago, I wrote that headline and lead article in the Los Angeles Sentinel after Venus and Serena Williams captured doubles gold in Beijing. Today, it means so much more now that Serena has done what her sister did in 2000 - win double tennis gold at the Olympics.

For Serena, she now has the career Golden Slam. Steffi Graf did in 1988 when she won the Grand Slam and Olympic singles gold in the calendar year. But Serena is the only one to add doubles to that resume, which she already did in 2000 and 2008.

And today, she and her sister have won their third doubles gold medal. A sister act that has continued to grow and add to their accomplishments in spite of their recent adversity.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Congrats Gabby Douglas!

Fly Gabby Fly!!!
If pictures say a 1,000 words, then I have nothing more to write. Watch Dominique Dawes, the only other Black gymnast to win an Olympic gold medal, share beautifully and emotionally why Gabby's win is so poignant for her and, among other, future gymnasts of color.

Folks will talk about the hair dilemma and I won't join the chorus because it's sad on a few levels. 1) The wrong folks will pontificate, 2) it exposed private conversations that never should've been said or taken as hating (unless it was said in self-hate), 3)  4) it reminds me of India.Arie's song "I Am Not My Hair" - "Does the way I wear my hair make me a better person."

I'll also let folks speak on how NBC and others, while praising her, has tried to do a disservice to her accomplishments. Please read those links because even in spite of history, some will still not give full credit where it's due. I saw it in 2010 where they barely gave Black speedskater Shani Davis credit for repeating as an Olympic gold medalist.

Here at the Gumbo, I salute the 16 year old dynamo out of Virginia and her historical achievements. The first Black gymnast to win two gold medals. The first Black gymnast to win the all-around competition. An unashamed Christian who gives credit to God for her poise and skill. A product of a beautiful Black family that supports her (including her Army veteran father) and a great host family that took care of her when she followed her dreams.

This is what the Olympics is about. Joy In Repetition paying off (word to Prince).

Love Gabby's mother throwing up the fist. Her tears and joy have been beautiful.
Since it's in London, I'll paraphrase one of England's best bands. Shine On, You Beautiful Diamond

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Michael Phelps vs. Carl Lewis (Greatest Olympian Ever?)

22 medals for America's Golden Boy. Remarkable!
Before I start this post (Ed. Note - it's been updated to reflect current totals as of Aug. 4), I'd like to set some parameters. This is strictly comparing Olympic accomplishments, not overall careers. I wanted to remind folks who are prisoners of the moment that there is much to consider about who's on the Mt. Olympus of greatness. Here we go.

Carl Lewis
- 10 medals (9 gold, 7 individual)
- 4 gold medals in 1984 (200 - OR, relay WR)
- 1988: won 100 with OR (post suspension of Ben Johnson)
- 4-peat in long jump (1 of 3 Olympians to 4-peat in an event)
- Anchored 4 x 100 relay to world record in 1992
- The only man to defend the 100 and long jump

Michael Phelps
- 22 medals (18 gold, 13 individual)
- 8 gold medals in 2008 (7 world records, 8th Olympic)
- 6 gold in 2004 (2 WRs, 3 ORs)
- 2 WRs set at Olympics still stand
- 2 time Olympic champion in several events
- 3-peat in the 4 x 200 freestyle relay, 200 IM and 100 butterfly (1st swimmer to ever 3-peat in an event)

By the numbers, Phelps is the greatest Olympic champion. But greatest Olympian ever? For my money, it's Lewis. Let's break down swimming though.