Monday, October 27, 2008

BCS Nightmare Looming?

In Michael Crichton's epic novel Jurassic Park the mathematician, Ian Malcolm, studies a mathematical formula known as the chaos theory. In short, chaos theory deals with certain scenarios on earth that are unpredictable. An example Malcolm talks about in the book is predicting weather.

If only the BCS were around during the writing of Jurassic Park because I am sure that would of qualified as unpredictable as well.

After the weekend of October 25th things are beginning to heat up in the race for the BCS National Championship, and again the outcome is unpredictable.

In the past the BCS has been nothing short of chaos, but this year seems to be leaning towards an even more hectic finish. According to the latest BCS poll the Top 10 consists of (in order) Texas, Alabama, Penn State, Oklahoma, USC, Georgia, Texas Tech, Florida, Oklahoma State, and Utah. The eerie-ness in this season's Top 10 is just how close so many teams are to grabbing the No. 1 and 2 spot. At the moment Texas and Alabama control their own destiny, as does the surprising Red Raiders of Texas Tech. But not Penn State who could finish 12-0 and miss out on a ticket to the BCS National Championship game.

What about the one-loss teams? Teams such as Florida and Oklahoma (and a few others) could run the tables and be left to wonder how the season could of turned out had they not slipped up against Ole Miss or Texas.

Before you start to panic and fret your team will be Auburn'd, rest assured much of the season remains to be played.

I will give you my thoughts on how it plays out...

Texas will prevail in Lubbock. It will be close, but McCoy will provide just enough for a "W." Alabama will lose not in Death Valley, but rather the SEC Championship Game. Penn State will run the tables and finish undefeated. Florida will win the SEC, but there one loss and Penn State's undefeated season will propel the Lions past them into the title game.

Texas Tech will trip again at least once more after they lose to the Longhorns, and look for the magical undefeated season of Utah's to end with a loss in the season finale to BYU. USC will win out but will remain far back in the polls because of their weak conference schedule.

As for the state of Oklahoma, the Sooners will win out for the season and the Cowboys of Oklahoma State will trip up twice more.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Hip Hop is Dead

This was an article written by Pierre Bennu in 2002. I found it on Facebook and really enjoyed it. It is 100 percent what I think about today's hip hop music.

Hip Hop is Dead by Pierre Bennu

I know you've been thinking it. And if you haven't, you probably haven't been paying attention. The art we once called hip hop has been dead for some time now. But because its rotting carcass has been draped in platinum and propped against a Gucci print car, many of us have missed its demise. I think the time has come to bid a farewell to the last black arts movement.

It's had a good run but it no longer serves the community that spawned it.

Innovation has been replaced with mediocrity and originality replaced with recycled nostalgia for the ghost of hip hop past, leaving nothing to look forward to. Honestly when was the last time you heard something (mainstream) that made you want to run around in circles and write down every word. When was the last time you didn't feel guilty nodding your head to a song that had a 'hot beat' after realizing the lyrical content made you cringe.

When I heard Jam Master Jay had been murdered, it was the icing on the cake.

A friend and I spoke for hours after he'd turned on the radio looking for solace and instead heard a member of the label Murder, Inc. about to give testimony about the slain DJ's legacy. My friend found the irony too great to even hear what the rapper had to say.

After we got off the phone, I dug through my crates and played the single "Self Destruction." The needle fell on the lyrics: "They call us animals I don't agree with them Let's prove em wrong But right is what were proving em"

The only thing that kept me from crying was my anger trying to imagine today's top hip hop artists getting together to do a song that urged disarmament in African American communities, or promoted literacy, or involved anything bigger than themselves for that matter. I couldn't picture it.

All I could picture were the myriad of hip hop conferences where the moguls and figureheads go through the motions and say the things that people want to hear but at the end of the day nothing changes. No new innovative artists are hired to balance out a roster of the pornographic fratricidal MC's.

In their place, we're presented with yet more examples of arrested development - the portrayal of grown men and women acting and dressing like 15 year olds. Balding insecure men in their mid 30's making entire songs about their sexual prowess and what shiny toys they have and you don't.

The only hate I see is self-hate. The only love I see is self-love. All one needs to do is watch cribs and notice none of these people, showing off their heated indoor pools or the PlayStation Two consoles installed in all twelve of their luxury cars, have a library in their home. Or display a bookshelf, for that matter. No rapper on cribs has ever been quoted saying: "Yeah, this is the room where I do all my reading, nahmean?"

To quote Puffy in Vogue magazine Nov, 2002: "Diamonds are a great investment... They're not only a girl's best friend, they are my best friend. I like the way diamonds make me feel. I can't really explain it, its like: that's a rock, something sent to me from nature, from God, it makes me feel good... It's almost like my security cape."

If rappers read, they might know about the decades of near-slavery endured by South African diamond miners. Or the rebels in Sierra Leone whose bloody diamond-fueled anti-voting rampages leave thousands of innocent men, women and children with amputated limbs.

Often, hip hop's blatant excess is rationalized with, "We came from nothing." That statement rings hollow given even a little bit of context.

African Americans have been "coming from nothing" for 400 years. That didn't stop previous generations of artists, activists, and ancestors from working toward a better situation for the whole, not just themselves. It's grotesque to see such selfish materialism celebrated by a generation who are literally the children of apartheid. The time has come to re-define the street and what it means to come from the street. Yes, criminals & violence come from the streets, but so do men and women who live their lives with kindness, and within the realm of the law. The problem with making! 'street' or 'realness' synonymous with criminality is that poor black children are demonized. You never see the image of middle class white children killing each other promoted as entertainment.

I respect the ability of an artist to explore the darker side or extremities of their personality but when that's all there is, there is no balance. In previous years, NWA existed simultaneously with Native Tongues, Cypress Hill and Digable Planets, Gangstar and 2 live crew.

There's room for thugz, playaz, gangstas, and what have you. My issue (aside from the fact that rappers spell everything phonetically) is that they have no heart. Rappers reflect what has become a new image of success where money is its own validation and caring is soft unless you're dropping a single about your dead homie.

Question: Why haven't these so-called "ballers" gotten together and bought a farm, a prison, a super market chain, or chartered a school? But they all have clothing lines. Smells like a sucker to me. The lack of social responsibility from people who claim to 'rep the streets' is stunning.

Yet we still have had the hearts and minds of most of the world. We negate this power if we don't step up to the plate. Our perspective needs to change; our whole idea of power needs to globalize. Gangsta shouldn't be shooting someone you grew up with in the face; "Gangsta" is calling the United States to task for not attending the World Summit on Racism in South Africa. "Balling" shouldn't be renting a mansion; it should be owning your own distribution company or starting a union. Bill Cosby's bid to buy NBC was more threatening than any screwface jewelry clad MC in a video could ever be.

As a DJ, it's hard: I pick up the instrumental version of records that people nod their head to... and mix it with the a cappella version of artists with something to say. It is expensive and frustrating. But I feel like the alternative is the musical equivalent to selling crack: spinning hits because it's easy, ignoring the fact that it's got us dancing to genocide. There are plenty of alternatives today but you'd never know it through the mass media. Hip hop has become Steven Seagal in a doo-rag.

Meanwhile, media radar rarely registers artists like Cannibal Ox, Madlib and the whole Stones Throw crew, Bless, Saul Williams, Bus Driver, Del, Gorillaz, anything from Def Jux, Freestyle Fellowship, Anti Pop Consortium, Kool Keith, Prince Paul, shit Public Enemy... the list goes on for ever. I get some solace from knowing and supporting these artists, and from the fact that around the world from Germany to Cuba to Brazil to South Africa, hip hop's accessibility and capacity for genius is still vital, thriving, and relevant.

And yes even among the bleak landscape in this country, wonderful things do happen. Like Camp Cool J and various artists donating money to research AIDS and even lend their faces to voting campaigns. Russell Simmons, among other socially conscious endeavors, led a rally to stop NYC's mayor from cutting the school budget and donates part of the proceeds from his sneaker sales to the reparations movement. The lack of coverage of efforts like this is as much to blame as any wack MC with a platinum record.

I'm not dissing the innovators of the art form, or those of us who got it where it is today. I will always play and support what I feel is good work. I guess this rant came more out of what Chuck D said at the end of Self Destruction: "We've got to keep ourselves in check," and no one has checked hip hop for some time.

I've entertained the idea that I might just be getting old. But if it's a function of my age that I remember hip hop as the peoples champ, so be it.

I was raised on a vital art form that has now become a computer-generated character doing the cabbage patch in a commercial, or a comedian 'raising the roof.' That's not influence to me, that's mockery. Hip hop my friend, it's been a great 30 years filled with great memories, and it's been fun to watch you grow. We've got dozens of broke innovators and plenty of mediocre millionaires out of the deal, but I really need my space now and we've got to go our separate ways. I will always love you, but it's time for me to move on.

Yo, what happened to peace? Peace.

Wanna see this article in your favorite hip hop, teeny, style or music magazine. Make one or more copies go to your local drug store or supermarket and stick them there. If that act is too guerilla for your tastes, just email it to a friend.

Have fun, stay blessed and smile today.

- Pierre Bennu

Friday, October 17, 2008

Death of a T-Shirt

Last Saturday the LSU Tigers got clobbered by the Florida Gators 51-21. The loss was nothing short of painful and embarrassing, yet because of this loss something died. Something immeasurable by any scientific study.

The death was that of my lucky LSU purple t-shirt.

Luck and sports almost play hand in hand. No team has ever been successful without the help of some no-name fan wearing his lucky shirt on gameday. You think LSU won last year's BCS Championship because of Matt Flynn, Jacob Hester, Early Doucet, and Glen Dorsey? Well they did most of the work, but lets not forget another little helper out there.

My shirt that is.

Yes, that purple shirt was special. For a good two years I wore it and last year's season the luck of the shirt was at it's climax. Would LSU had come back and beaten Florida, Auburn, Alabama, and Tennesse had it not been for my shirt? I really don't know.

Let me put it this way, the games I did not have my t-shirt on the entire game (Kentucky, Arkansas) LSU lost.

Scary isn't it?

Even after the 2007 season ended I still felt there was some luck in that shirt. Sure it was a shard of cloth by now, but again some luck was left. September 20 LSU beat Auburn 26-21, which could only mean one thing: the shirt was still alive and well.

But last Saturday I pushed my luck. I obviously without knowing pushed my t-shirt's luck too far. He's done a lot for me, I mean he helped bring in a National Championship for LSU football. I wish I had known prior to the LSU/Florida game that he did not have a lot of time left and that our days of miralce wins were over. He did his best to try and bring a win back to Baton Rouge. Using his amazing luck he did manage to have LSU rally from a 20-0 deficit to a mere 20-14 ball game, but that was all he could do.

Every sports fan knows the death of a lucky item happens when your team puts up a terrible performance. That performance for my shirt was the 51-21 Florida slaughter of LSU.

I write this blog in memory of my purple LSU shirt. You never talked much, but you brought me more fortune than any shirt I have ever had.

May you rest in peace old buddy.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

10.9.08 Football Roundup

Quite the weekend of college football coming up. Before I forget I thought I would post these statistics I gathered about 6 NFL teams with losing records.

Bengals 0-5; 4 losses by 27 points; average loss just under 7 points
Saints 2-3; 3 losses by a total of 10 points; average loss 3.3 points
Texans; 0-4; 2 losses by 7 points total; average loss 3.5 points
Chargers; 2-3; 3 losses by 10 points; average loss 3.3 points
Eagles; 2-3; 3 losses by 14 points; average loss just under 5 points
Raiders; 1-3; 2 losses by 11 points; average loss 5.5 points

Wonder how good these teams would be if they could (gasp) play in the fourth quarter!

Okay now onto the college football match ups. Here are my predictions for the games taking place in the Top 25 this Saturday.

1 Oklahoma vs. 5 Texas

Bob Stoops owns Mack Brown in this rivalry. Yes, Vince Young lead the Longhorns to two wins, but overall, Stoops's teams have always won. I don't see any reason to think that just maybe this one time Texas pulls off the upset. In a losing effort Colt McCoy will be outstanding.

Oklahoma 34-22

17 Oklahoma State @ 3 Missouri

I understand it was Nebraska they destroyed, but still! Mizzou is better than I thought. Oklahoma State could keep it close at first, but ultimately future Heisman trophy winner Chase Daniel will be too much. In two eye blinks Daniel will destroy Okie State's dreams of an upset. 7-7 to 28-7 in no time.

48-17 Missouri

4 LSU @ 11 Florida

So much is at stake here. First, LSU can ruin Florida's season by handing the Gators' their second loss of the season. Second, Florida can be the first team to dethrone the national champions from last season. Third, LSU could potentially win in another difficult atmosphere. Fourth, Florida could avenge their heartbreaking 28-24 loss at Tiger Stadium from last year. Fifth, okay okay you get the picture this game is big. It will be close and both teams are bringing everything. Even the towel boy. LSU will prevail because the line domination. Charles Scott will ulitmately have his way with Florida and Colt David will provide enough to clinch a victory in the Swamp.

LSU 29-20

Nebraska @ 7 Texas Tech

Well, Coach Pelini it does not get any better. First Mizzou now the Tech offense? Geez. Good luck. I think the Red Raiders are not worthy of their No. 7 ranking. No big wins. And a big win is not stomping Nebraska.

44-21 Nebraska

6 Penn State @ Wisconsin

My oh my are the Nittany Lions are sneaking up on the college football world! It's been a while since Joe Paterno had a really good PSU team. Wisconsin has lost two straight Big Ten games. Things are looking desperate for the Badgers who just let the Buckeyes get out of Camp Randall with a win. I was thisclose to having Wisconsin pull off the upset, but that Penn State offense has been pretty impressive. Joe Pa and Co. will not win this one easily.

26-18 Penn State

Arizona State @ 8 USC

What happened to the Dennis Erickson Tempe, Arizona party? ASU has fallen flat this year and after USC with or without Sanchez they will be even flatter. You are thinking the Trojans come out flat...possibly? Please. McKnight has a field day. Yawn.

38-21 USC

New Mexico @ 9 BYU

Max Hall's destruction of all defenses will continue when he goes against a weak Lobos' D. The record number of TDs in a game was 11 by David Klinger in 1990. Hall won't break that on this day, and well, won't really need to. Look for BYU's D to again impress people.

42-10 BYU

Tennessee @ 10 Georgia

Georgia got embarrassed by Bama two weeks ago. They are looking to prove people that a national championship dream is still not out of the question. As for UT they beat Northern Illinois 13-9. By the way, I'm sure Georgia wants payback for last year's terrible loss to the Vols. Look for the score to be closer than the actual domination UT will be handed.

28-14 Georgia

Purdue @ 12 Ohio State

I could see the Boilermakers possibly causing some problems for the Bucks in this game, but Boeckman is not QB anymore. Meaning? OSU can move the ball now. Purdue keeps it respectable, but again that Bucks offense with Pryor and Wells is too much.

35-20 Purdue

13 Vanderbilt @ Missississississippi State

I think I spelled everything right. Not sure. Anyway, Vandy needs to watch out for this trap game. MSU took it to LSU two weeks ago and will be wanting to end this happy undefeated Vandy season this Saturday. I look for a letdown from the Commodores.

Mississippi State 24-20

14 Utah @ Wyoming

Utah avoided an upset last week when they defeated Oregon State. The Utes are definitely BCS potential and are aware of that. Look for Utah to come out rolling on all cylinders after coming so close to defeat last week.

40-22 Utah

15 Boise State @ Southern Miss

This seems to be a big upset pick for a lot of analysts. But one thing will stop that from happening: Boise State has a defense. In the past, Boise never had a stellar unit on that side of the ball. Sure the offense has been terrific, but the game is won by the D Saturday.

28-22 Boise State

Colorado @ 16 Kansas

Kansas did not look good for four quarters in their 35-33 win over Iowa State. As for Colorado the Buffs got outplayed big time in their 38-14 loss to Texas. Colorado will lose a nail biter as Todd Reesing of Kanas directs a late game winning scoring drive. So close Colorado...

30-28 Kansas

Arkansas @ 20 Auburn

Auburn fired their offensive coordinator Tony Franklin after nearly being last in just about every category. It was the right move for an Auburn team already with two losses. In comes Arkansas, who has been getting slaugthered week in and week out. This will be a good confidence booster for Auburn, but again this is Arkansas.

20-10 Auburn

Notre Dame @ 22 North Carolina

Let the ND babbling begin. Charlie Weis will pull of this upset behind the stellar play of Jimmy Clausen. Clausen has slowly been developing each week into a better QB. Butch Davis does have a team in UNC, but look for the Irish to squeak one out in the end.

26-24 Notre Dame

23 Michigan State @ Northwestern

In 2006 Michigan State played Northwestern. The Spartans would trail 38-3 before rallying to win the game. That remains the greatest comeback in the history of college football. Anyway, as for this year's game, NW is undefeated but has not gone against anyone like Javon Ringer. Ringer will be the deciding factor.

31-21 Michigan State.

25 Ball State @ Western Kentucky

Congratulations on being ranked Ball State. No reason to think that will change this week. Ball State shut out a Toledo team last week at home (31-0) that hung 54 on Fresno State. Quite simply, Ball State has a defense which will ultimately stop an upset from ever happening.

30-16 Ball State