*IS* This Really Happening?

I know it's pointless to bash Simmons these days, but......IS HE FUCKING SERIOUS WITH THIS SHIT???

An older black guy is driving. He looks like he has aged 10 years in the past three. He's gazing ahead in silence, lost in his own thoughts, oblivious to the stares from the out-of-towner covered in powdered sugar. Meanwhile, his car radio happens to be blaring a classic Tupac song, and what's really blowing my mind is that it's the chorus of the perfect song for this particular moment. If you froze the moment and asked me to pick a song, I would have picked this song. And now it's playing. And I'm frozen in midbite. I can't believe it. I'm standing there in complete disbelief.

Keep ya head up … ooooh child, things are gonna get easier … keep ya head up … ooooh child, things will get brighter.

Is this really happening?

Ooooh child, things are gonna get easier … keep ya head up … ooooh child, things will get brighter.

And just like that, he drove away.

Labels: , ,


At 2/19/2008 1:46 PM, Blogger Drew said...

Wow, I just thought the same exact thing having just read that article. Don't forget about this insightful observation, too: "That's the thing about life. You never know what's going to happen next. New Orleans was fine, and then it wasn't." And then to wrap it up with that cheesy ass line from Field of Dreams.

As someone who lives in New Orleans, I was actually just sending on the Simmons article to a couple of my friends that worship him. But I cautioned them that it didn't really tell the whole story and was coming here (freedarko) to get the link for the "Where Tchoupitoulas Meets Poydras" post so they could see a more critical look at what the All Star Game means to New Orleans.

Simmons can be such a lazy writer.

At 2/19/2008 1:47 PM, Blogger evan said...

I see your unwarranted thoughts on race and raise you one mailbag entry :

Q: If they were going to construct the Mount Rushmore of the rap industry, who would the four members be? Keep in mind that it is the four most influential people to the history of the industry, not necessarily the four best rappers.
--Adam, Hillsville, Va.

SG: You'd have to call it Mount Rapmore and, by the way, it's not a bad idea for a tourist attraction in Compton or Watts. Anyway, Tupac had the most raw talent, the biggest creative impact and the most fascinating legacy. He has to be there. Dr. Dre played a crucial role during rap's formative years, helped launch the West Coast sound, found Snoop and the Dogg Pound, pushed rap into the mainstream with "The Chronic" and showed everyone else how to sell out. He has to be there. Jay-Z made the most money, bagged Beyonce and turned himself into a financial and cultural icon. He has to be there.

As for the fourth spot, Eminem reached the single highest peak of any rapper; Biggie Smalls was the greatest freestyler ever and had the single most distinctive sound; and Public Enemy had a bigger influence than both of them, only you couldn't just stick Chuck D. on there because it would belittle the contributions of everyone else in the group. So I keep coming back to this point: Biggie's major red flag was that he died too young, but if he had made one more memorable album, you'd pencil him in without an argument. Can you penalize him for dying young? I say no. Besides, you can't have a Mount Rapmore with Tupac and not Biggie when those guys are so intertwined historically. So Biggie would be my fourth pick for now, but it's up for grabs. We're an Eminem comeback album away from him knocking Biggie off and grabbing the fourth spot."

He needs to refocus.

At 2/19/2008 1:52 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

Wow, I guess I missed that mailbag. I think the correct answer should have been: "I am totally unqualified to answer your question. I've passed it on to Scoop Jackson, who I'm sure would love to answer it for you."

At 2/19/2008 1:54 PM, Blogger Joe said...

Jeazus...before the droves start, let me re-post something I mentioned on Joey's website a couple weeks back:

"Blogger bashing of Simmons checklist:

Caveat that they used to be an avid BS reader?

Discussion of his schtick starting to get old around Kimmel show/Red Sox winning WS/Sports Guy world webpage/book?

Gay jokes?

White people accusing Simmons of racism?

Indication that said blogger still reads his columns the day they come out dispite mention "they don't read him much anymore" or some similar claim?"

The less comments mentioning the above, the better.

That said, that column was brutal and completely incorrect (as a white southerner, most everyone I know has been to Nola 2-3 times since Katrina, and the tourism industry should not be linked in any way whatsoever to the suffering that has gone on in the city as a whole).

At 2/19/2008 2:03 PM, Blogger Fredrik deBoer said...

The problem with your kind of critique, Joe, is that you aren't actually doing anything to demonstrate that those criticisms are incorrect. I mean, look, I think Simmon's schtick is tired. How could it not be? And, by the way, I don't see anyone here accusing Simmons of racism. At all.

The truth is, just because criticisms are commonly stated doesn't prove them wrong; in fact, criticisms are often commonly stated because they're correct. What's more, listing critiques you don't like is not in any way an argument against them, and ultimately all you're doing is attempting to inoculate Simmons from those criticisms without even addressing them. That's dishonest and it's useless.

At 2/19/2008 2:13 PM, Blogger Leonardson Saratoga said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 2/19/2008 2:14 PM, Blogger Leonardson Saratoga said...

@Dr. LIC (or anyone): is that just in response to that particular question ("who are the four most important faces in hip-hop history") that only someone like Scoop could truly know who has had the most impact, or to black culture questions as a whole?

i'm definitely not disagreeing with you, I don't really give a shit who Simmons thinks is most influential in hip-hop, but it brings up a question I've been struggling with lately: at what point do white folks simply, inherently, become unable to truly (and ever) answer questions regarding influence and impact in black culture (i.e. black music)?

At 2/19/2008 2:22 PM, Blogger questionmark said...


At 2/19/2008 2:35 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

That was me, not Dr. LIC. I wasn't saying that Scoop is the only one who can answer those questions, in fact, I would not put much stock in what he has to say about "Mt. Rapmore" either. I was mostly just joking that Scoop does seem to consider himself an authority on hip-hop culture and would probably jump at the chance to flex this authority.

Anyway, I don't think white people are unable to answer questions about black culture, not at all. I would find it hard to believe anyone who reads this site would think that, as Shoals is one white person who has often written insightfully about black culture.

At 2/19/2008 2:35 PM, Blogger MaxwellDemon said...

Saratoga--the issue regarding the hip hop question isn't whiteness, it's Simmonsness. Eminem's opinion on that hypothetical would be as valid as anybody's. And I know this because I am large; I contain multitudes.

At 2/19/2008 2:38 PM, Blogger Joe said...

@ Fredrik: I am not saying that those criticisms are not warrented. Some of them are. I think Simmons himself would admit to some himself. He has, actually, mentioned in a column a few years ago that the reader should know what they were getting by now: the same jokes, pop culture references, Boston homerism, etc.

And some things I mentioned were not even criticisms...they were hackneyed responses used by bloggers and blog commentators in damn near every post mentioning Simmons over the last couple of years.

@ the Mount Rapmore comments: Yeah, I don't know what the hell anyone else was expecting there...he pretty much named the four/five most famous rappers that would go on a hypothetical monument...kind of like the actual monument had four of the biggest "name" presidents when it was built. Was anyone really expecting him to put Ghostface on there? Hell, even if he had, most of the haters would have expressed indignation, much like he did when he professed his affinty for The Wire last year.

At 2/19/2008 2:40 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

@MD: Yes, that's exactly what I was saying, it's laughable to think Simmons could contribute anything worthwhile to a discussion of hip-hop, especially when you consider he spent the 80's listening to Echo and the Bunnymen or whatever the fuck.

At 2/19/2008 2:59 PM, Blogger Josh said...

the article actually got decent once Simmons started talking about the NBA, but the first part...jesus...he's turning into the next-gen Plaschke before our eyes.

At 2/19/2008 3:00 PM, Blogger Ty Keenan said...

That's some Scott Templeton shit right there.

At 2/19/2008 3:09 PM, Blogger Jordan Ginsberg said...

I thought the part about him sharing those "darkest corners" was moving, personally.

At 2/19/2008 3:24 PM, Blogger Dan Filowitz said...

Sure, it's a little corny. But Simmons has often trended towards the corny and sentimental when he writes about this sort of thing.

So, outside of being a bit corny, what's the problem?

At 2/19/2008 3:26 PM, Blogger MC Welk said...

Scarface, Willie D, Bushwick … now that's the Houston skyline.

At 2/19/2008 3:35 PM, Blogger The wondering Mind said...

I think you guys miss some of his points. Simmons was trying to point out the fact that you cannot separate the place from the occasion. The recent history of Nola is one of pain and suffering and it would be cold hearted beyond belief for one to head to NO for an enjoyment without some cursory interest in the affairs of the city. That being said Simmons has become a one trick pony and regardless of how many ways you have for making a rabbit disappear, it is still just making a rabbit disappear. Bill Simmons’s true sin is not that he is lazy (regularly putting out 5000 word epistles does not in anyway equate to mental or physical laziness) but that in trying to find his own unique voice or whatever you want to call it, he has allowed style to swallow his substance and has transformed what used to be a flowing descriptive narration of thought streams into choppy and formulaic essay of dubious literary value and doubtful social or athletic interest. In other words, as currently presented his work represents neither the sports fan nor "the young hip and casually interested" readers his emails constantly reference. The sorry thing is that if you forgive the hubris and the self promotion, and also remove the shticky radioactive element of trying to quote popular culture, he is actually a decent writer.

At 2/19/2008 4:33 PM, Blogger paper tiger said...

one thing i find interesting about the NBA's efforts in new orleans, and somebody like simmons lionizing david stern for them, is that there's no fucking shortage of communities that need help in this country. i don't for a second want to trivialize the devastation from katrina, but you can't find a city where there's not schools that need to be painted. i don't mean for this to sound heartless, but it seems too convenient for the NBA to swoop in where there's a (man-made) environmental disaster but to ignore other languishing, post-industrial wastelands. i wish we'd see such concentrated efforts from the NBA in detroit, etc. just this week i was looking at a Gitanjali Maharaj article from awhile back where she says that "the same late-capitalist economic practices that led to deindustrialization and the decline of black urban communities in the post-WWII U.S. also produced the black basketball star as a commodity and an object of desire for mass consumption." (yeah, that's a quote, sorry, i'm tired.) we see that the "NBA Cares" like crazy about new orleans, sure, but stern doesn't want to do too much cleaning up behind the problems that have given him his product.

my problem with simmons usually is that he far too glibly licks his chops at the idea that these commodities are for him and that he should treat them that way, as the ludicrous "mount rapmore" business above shows.

At 2/19/2008 4:56 PM, Blogger Sweat of Ewing said...

@paper tiger:

That's not a problem of the NBA specifically, but (probably most) societies at large. We tend to ignore the gradual decay in favor of the explosive destruction, regardless if the decay is a plague destroying 20% of the population and the explosion takes out less than a fraction.

At 2/19/2008 5:09 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Speaking of other cities. . .

At 2/19/2008 7:54 PM, Blogger Zeke said...

I don't know why anybody is getting worked up over what Simmons wrote here. He gave up any pretense at independent discretion when he joined the WorldWide Follower, and I would make that bargain too if they were willing to pay me what he's making. ESPN is in bed with the professional sports leagues that they cover and don't want to provide critical coverage if they don't have to; they are to the NFL, NBA and MLB what Fox is to the Republican Party.

It's obviously important for Stern to gather up some of his star players, and then have them pound nails in front of the cameras for a couple of hours on behalf Habitat for Humanity, so the League can get the PR coup that comes with showing that the "NBA Cares." ESPN is naturally going to be on board with this effort. Simmons writing a "Hey, bad things happened here, but NOLA is on its way back" column is part and parcel of that effort. Why would you expect anything different?

At 2/19/2008 8:28 PM, Blogger Matt said...

Somebody owes Mitch Albom a cookie.

At 2/20/2008 12:04 PM, Blogger avery said...

I agree with paper tiger. The NBA should be doing more for cities like Detroit, but they wouldn't get any press. The NBA is using NOLA/All-Star Game like the RED campaign uses Africa. You have to buy something at the GAP to send money to an organization that needs it--why not just send money straight to the organization?

Why doesn't the NBA just do the work and forget the TV cameras? How much work did Lebron or anybody else do when the cameras were off? (maybe they did a lot..but it's a fair question).
NOLA is an "it" cause now. Katrina was a disaster partly (not completely...obviously a flood will do a lot of damage) because of what was already happening there--rampant poverty along with a working class with little to no savings, compounded by underperforming schools.

Also, off of Zeke's point--why wasn't LZ Granderson's column about how he was verbally and almost physically attacked in New Orleans not heavily promoted? (not that his columns usually are...)The message of his column just goes against the general flow of positivity coming out of New Orleans.

At 2/20/2008 12:47 PM, Blogger Turd said...

"Shoals is one white person who has often written insightfully about black culture."

I'm sorry, but... no. Just no. This is the same guy who once wrote something along the lines of "The Wire is the most authentic document of the inner city drug trade since Cuban Linx," which is the one I'll always remember, but he's got tons of other nonsense like that under his belt.

I actually tend to find Simmons far less offensive than Shoals, because with Simmons I at least never get the impression that he's trying to show me how down he is. Simmons is in many ways up front about the fact that he's essentially a cracker from Boston with little to no direct exposure to black people.

Which is not to say that the Mt. Rapmore or Tupac moments aren't completely ridiculous, but if anything they just help to (unintentionally) re-inforce his whole goofy white-boy schtick.

Having listened to wu-tang while high as a teen-ager doesn't give anyone a grip on anything. The joy of that shit is that it's so over the top and divorced from reality, and pretty much specifically designed for stoned white kids to flip out over.

At 2/20/2008 1:09 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

I don't know why I keep answering these comments. . .

I don't think I've ever claimed to be an authority. I think it's important to talk about race, and I like black music. If you think I'm trying to show I'm "down," you obviously haven't spent enough time on the internet; saying that a 40 year-old white male doesn't know what "superman" means doesn't make me down.

That Wire/Cuban Linx thing is stupid. If I wrote it, you should hate me. But I doubt I did, since even when I was a teenager I knew Cuban Linx was supposed to be a fantasy.

At 2/21/2008 10:27 PM, Blogger Marcus said...

I'm just here looking for something on the Cavs trade.

At 2/22/2008 3:41 PM, Blogger Turd said...


It's not as bad as I remembered, but yeah, I've hated you since I read that. Though in all fairness, I haven't read you much at all since then, I come here looking for Billups and skip what you write. That's a shitty thing to say, but it's entirely possible that you've gotten better in the meantime.

I'd write a more substantive critcism, but I'm late to work. I think you had a ton of promise as a writer, but you seem to have been intent on completely undermining it with the megalomaniacal and insecure "voice" you claim to be aware of. My problem with a lot of what you've written on race (and it's not really race that you've written about so much as "hip-hop culture" or whatever the fuck mass reproduction of underclass black culture is getting called these days) isn't so much with the content often missing the mark. Everybody does that, and it's near impossible to make hard and fast manichaen judgments in this realms anyway. The problem is with your tone, which is so often condescending and authoritative even when it has no right to be.

At 2/22/2008 4:57 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Believe me, I have major problems with the way this site's tone has related to real world issues. Shit, I feel the same way about it discussing real basketball.

There's a reason I'm happy that the archives are now more or less unreadable. A lot of the content is that already. . . I like to think it's improved in that respect over the past year.


Post a Comment

<< Home