Sunday, December 6, 2015

Chiraq. Oh,The Irony

I've been to Chicago a couple of times. I can't say I really like it. The weather sucks. People are generally fat and not very pleasant. I hate the Chicago Bulls. So why am I taking the time to write this article? Because I'm American. As in I have an American passport and live within its borders like everyone else, even in Chicago.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Having just watched Spike Lee's new film "Chiraq," I decided I'd make a point of actually investigating what's making Chicago the epicenter of American gun violence. The movie is hilarious. It's a complete parody of a grim situation, which perfectly suits my sadistic sense of humor. In the film, Spike Lee rewrites the Greek play "Lysistrata" in modern day Chicago, suggesting that somehow women can use a pussy strike to convince the men in their lives to stop committing acts of violence.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          While the film is entertaining, it offers no realistic solution to violence. Sadly, many people in Chicago and elsewhere in America have become trigger happy before losing their virginity. Kids appear to be living a real life fantasy that plays itself out in violent and destructive ways right in their own backyards. The same type of nihilistic destruction has spread to other places in America, and around the world. Chiraq would seem like the perfect nickname for this hotbed of glorified violence, right? Not exactly.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Besides being involved militarily, most Americans know very little about Iraq, other than the fact that its been a war-zone now for a couple of decades. I would guess that there aren't a whole lot of kids in Chicago, for instance, who speak Arabic. There may be an abundance of people in America who cannot point to Iraq on a map. The nickname Chiraq for an American city perfectly sums up just how ignorant America has become. Before the United States got involved in the region's political affairs, Iraq was apparently a beautiful country. Not to say it didn't have some political turmoil, but it wasn't that bad. By earning a nickname like Chiraq due to violence, Chicago has highlighted the fact that military intervention has made a once beautiful country the most dangerous place on earth. Now, Chicago, once a great destination for working class Americans, is now being torn apart by violence, ethnic segregation, and a lack of opportunity.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Due to the mass exportation of jobs overseas, kids are forced to either go through the rigors of the educational system, or somehow pursue the American dream with very little resources. Many kids have seen parents and siblings locked away for life for first -time drug offenses, a pattern that clearly points to the prison system's profit of holding as many people in jail as possible. But it's not just the prison system that cashes in on crime. It's also the NRA. Every time a firearm is purchased, they make more money. Military contractors profit from arming civilian military personnel at bases where wars are being plotted. They also profit every time a bomb is dropped on countries like Syria or Iraq, places people here unfortunately are very unfamiliar with.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           The mass consumerism among American youth has been glorified in mainstream rap music. Sadly, every article of clothing kids, adults, and college students alike are wearing is made elsewhere. All of our products being sold in retail stores are made in other countries in slave-like conditions. Our cars, our computers, our cellphones, all made cheap overseas and sold for high prices here. If people were smart they'd realize that people are cashing in on their very existence, and the more they spend on clothes, weapons, cars, jewelry, the more money is poured into the pockets of people who will never offer hope to the average American.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             In Iraq, people can be ignorant, but they know enough to know that the United States is not involved in the region for diplomacy. America is politically involved in the Middle East because of natural resources. The more countries in the Middle East are aligned withh the United States and Israel, the more countries will use the American dollar to turn on their electricity and hot water. As American resentment builds, groups like ISIS are formed to make a counter-profit on a highly impoverished and vulnerable population.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Now, the American media is using music as a way to further blind the population from their own demise. American ignorance has allowed Iraq to sound really bad, but Chiraq sounds just plain awful.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Gun: Weapon of Mass Oppression

First of all, let me start off by saying that I hate the mainstream media, and that I usually try to ignore most news stories altogether, but since my main man Charles Barkley is getting involved in the discussion, I figured I should weigh in.
I completely disagree with Sir Charles. I think the officer should have been indicted, and that the only difference between this shooting and any other shooting in America is that racial profiling was an issue, as well as the fact that cops, specifically those of the white variety, get preferential treatment in the judicial system. There's no denying that, and if you do then you're living under a rock.
Unfortunately, the protest of this specific case, while understandable, isn't going to solve much in terms of the root of the problem, and that is the tolerance of guns in America. Ending racial profiling is something that would take a complete overhaul of the contemporary American culture, because so many people do it on a subconscious level. It's been woven into peoples' mentalities through music and entertainment, that blacks and latinos are more likely to commit crimes, both violent and petty, than whites.
Americans of all ethnic backgrounds are trigger happy. Sadly, there may be more guns in this country than people. We, as civilians have tolerated, even glorified, gun violence through the same music and entertainment that wrongfully frames blacks and latinos as thugs and criminals, thus building a culture that accepts it as a way of life. We can't, as civilians, expect the police to not be trigger happy when we are trigger happy ourselves. After all, cops are only given firearms, because they are policing people who may also possess firearms.
In order to do laundry, you need a machine. In this case, the mentally ill people who shoot up a school, the ex-soldier with PTSD that shoots up a military base, the kid that shoots another kid from a rival clique or gang, and the dumb, racist cop that shoots an unarmed black kid, all have one thing in common, and that is that they have the tool with which to carry out these violent transgressions, a firearm.
If we disarm ourselves, there would be no reason for cops to be armed either, none of these forms of mental instability would lead to tragedy, and we wouldn't even get to the point of having to deal with a prejudiced judicial system in the first place. The problem is that we always deviate from trying to ban guns altogether by focusing on some other aspect of crimes like what the motivation was, or who the shooter was as a person. We do this, because lobbying with the NRA to ban guns altogether is such an uphill climb, as they make so much money on our collective fear of each other.
Guns are the archaic tool that continue to oppress all of us, an advent of a revolutionary war that's already been won centuries ago. Shut down the NRA, and all of us will be free.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Knicks End Skid: Early Season Report

The New York Knicks finally ended a seven-game losing streak with a win against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday. Despite an abysmal 3-8 start, the Knicks are remarkably doing a lot of things well. The triangle offense features free-flowing ball movement that gets the Knicks great open looks from three-point range. They're shooting just over 39% from downtown on the year, and about 45% total from the field. The main problem on offense hasn't been the execution of the triangle offense, but their lack of a trips to the foul line. They're only averaging about 17 free throw attempts per game. This number has to go up, as it did against Denver on Sunday, where they took 27 foul shots, a season-high. If they can get keep earning trips to the foul line, their offensive woes should subside shortly.

On the defensive end, the Knicks have done some things very well. They're averaging 3.5 blocks and 6 steals per game. They must close out on shooters better, however. They're currently allowing their opponents to shoot 42% from downtown. Prior to the Denver game that percentage was over 50. Opponents are also shooting 45% from the field, so while the Knicks are shooting the ball relatively well, they're also letting other teams get way too many open looks at the basket. Part of the problem on defense stems from the inexperienced play of Shane Larkin, who has a tendency to allow too much penetration into the paint, forcing wing players to collapse towards the middle. Larkin must do a better job of moving his feet, and not gambling, so that players guarding shooters don't have to collapse on penetrating point guards on the other team.

If the Knicks can fix these minor glitches during their upcoming games, we may very well see them ascending the Eastern Conference standings sooner rather than later.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Bulls Down 2-0, But Chicago Faces Bigger Problems

Sometimes sports can be an escape from often grim realities that surround us on a daily basis, but in Chicago the nightmare of gun violence has disturbingly frequent. Over Easter weekend, the Bulls started their playoff series against the Washington Wizards, one which they now trail two games to none. On the same weekend, there were over 40 shootings, mostly on the city's South side. The epidemic of gun violence in America has been particularly harsh in Chicago. In 2012, there were 503 homicides, and although that number dropped to 415 in 2013, the city continues to struggle with gang-related violence.

Chicago has always been a tough town. It was home of some of the most infamous mobsters in American history, including the likes of Al Capone. The current Bulls team represents the city's toughness in many regards. Their star guard, Chicago native Derrick Rose, remains sidelined due to injury. Meanwhile, the consistent hustle of center Joakim Noah continued to inspire the rest of the team to will their way to the fourth seed in the playoffs. Every player on Chicago plays solid defense. Head coach Tom Thibodeau demands nothing less. The challenge for the Bulls all season has been scoring, and it appears that they may be outmatched athletically by a younger, faster Washington team.

Nevertheless, the Bulls should continue to be a presence in the Eastern conference for years to come, and with the possibility of Carmelo Anthony joining the team this summer, there is reason to be optimistic for hoops heads in the Windy City. In the mean time, Chicago address the problem of violence in the city, because whether the Bulls win or not, people are still losing lives.
And that's much more unacceptable than lousy offense.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Washington Wizards at Verizon Center: Recent Photos

Rajon Rondo listening to some tunes
Otto Porter lines up a corner three
Kelly Olynyk tries to convert a layup over Andre Miller
Joakim Noah goes in for a layup
Kemba Walker drives to the bucket
Gary Neal tries to loft a shot over Nene

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Wizards Hit New York Right Where it Counts

It's Friday night in Washington, DC. I'm cruising around the H Street corridor looking for a bar to watch the Knicks play the Wizards. Not a club, not a lounge, a bar. One with plenty of bar space and preferably a couple of other basketball fans that I could watch the game with. The first watering hole I entered was a spot called The H Street Country Club, a place best known for its indoor miniature golf course. No luck. Not only was no one in the building watching the game, the game wasn't even on. Instead, they were showing a random baseball game. I couldn't even tell you who was playing, and Denver versus Memphis. Needless to say, I left the premises. Next, I went into a bar across the street that had plenty of televisions showing the game, but zero bar space. The place was actually a lounge playing incredibly sappy soft r&b tunes. Again, no basketball junkies to be found. I was headed back to my place, and tried one more spot. Again, the game was on a television, but the smooth jazz playing just wasn't the type of vibe that I was looking for on this occasion. This was a big game, especially for the Knicks, and I wanted to feel its magnitude in some way that these places weren't giving me.

The Wizards had already clinched a playoff spot on Wednesday night. Of course, nobody seemed to notice in D.C. Meanwhile, in New York, with all the other sports teams struggling, with the exception of the Brooklyn Nets, the Knicks were fighting to stay alive in the playoff hunt. New York City, a basketball town, was counting on the Knicks to win this game and stay stay alive.

By the time, I returned to my place, tucked away in the shadows behind the RFK stadium parking lot, it was already the third quarter. The Knicks were up by a slim margin. It remained close throughout the contest, and appeared as though it would be J.R. Smith's 32 points that would send the Knicks to victory, but the game came down to a big shot by Bradley Beal with 22.9 seconds left to put the Wizards up 90-89. Carmelo Anthony struggled mightily, only scoring 10 points on 5-14 shooting from the field. On the final possession, Anthony lost the handle on the ball while trying to penetrate. Smith had a decent look at the basket from long-range, but the shot went off the side of the iron. Madison Square Garden, the center of the basketball universe, was stunned once again into a comatose state. The Wizards had rolled into New York and dealt a crushing blow to the Knicks' playoff chances, and an even more crushing blow to the city of New York, a town so desperate for an NBA title. It was a deflating loss for New York, but a gritty win by Washington in a playoff atmosphere. If only people in D.C. actually cared.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Washington Wizards vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

Anderson Varejao in traffic
Kyrie Irving meets Marcin Gortat at the rim
John Wall and Jarrett Jack chase after the loose ball
Jarrett Jack comes away with the loose ball