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Is that a shark in your truck or are you just pleased to see me?!  The crew had intended to keep the catch under wraps but the scene at this gas station as they drove home was a bit of a give away. Photo: Joey Polk

A Florida man has pulled in an 11-foot, 805-pound mako shark from the shores of the Gulf in what may be a new world record for land-based shark fishing. Joey Polk from Milton, Fla., spent an hour wrestling the monster onto land last Tuesday night, sometimes with almost 900 yards of line pulled out of his reel. The mako is the fastest of all sharks and can swim at speeds up to 60 miles per hour, and Polk said he now knows that is the truth. Read more...

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Last week, Doran Miller-Rosenberg, a writer for EliteDaily.com published  “Why the ’6 Ways to Stop Your Child From Being Brainwashed By Mainstream Rap’ Guide Got It All Wrong’”, a nasty rebuttal to my original article which was an over-the-top, comedic take on what parents need to do to wean their kids off commercial rap. Mr. Miller-Rosenberg, a 20-something hipster from Brooklyn didn’t get it. Whereas a simple critique of my article would have been within reason, Doran, or D-Bag as I like to call him, spent the majority of his digital ink on attacking my person with cheap shots and half-baked arguments while completely brushing off both the satirical nature of my article and the very real social implications of mainstream rap’s influence on kids. Of course, that’s to be expected from someone whose social awareness is most likely limited to which neighborhood has the best organic bagels. Read more...

A federal criminal investigation has uncovered a “large-scale theft” operation inside Nike’s Oregon headquarters, a scheme that targeted valuable sneaker prototypes and involved a Nike product manager, his predecessor at the shoe giant, and a Florida businessman who resold the “extremely rare” kicks to buyers nationwide, The Smoking Gun has learned. Read more...

In the darkest hours, when his only reality was a life sentence and a five-by-seven cell, Rubin "Hurricane" Carter studied Plato, George Gurdjieff, Viktor Frankl, Jiddu Krishnamurti, and every criminal law book he could get his hands on. "All of the world's wisdom," he later wrote, "(for) trying to find my spiritual path to freedom." In the earliest days of a 19-year internment that he endured for a crime he did not commit, he also wrote an eloquent autobiography that burst through the walls of Trenton State Prison and aroused the compassion of people throughout the world, including Muhammad Ali and Bob Dylan. So when this former middleweight contender with an eighth-grade education and a truculent countenance died Sunday morning a free man at his home near Toronto, Carter could mostly be remembered as a self-made symbol of implacable resolve, one who authored his own quest for freedom and became a cause celebre for the way millions perceived racial justice in America. Read more...

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If you spend much time in record stores, you've probably found yourself transfixed by an expensive, primo-looking copy of a rare or out-of-print LP—among the framed records on the wall at the Wicker Park Reckless, for instance, are a $119.99 copy of the Beatles' White Album and a $39.99 copy of Stockhausen's Gruppen für 3 Orchester 1955-57 / Carré für 4 Orchester 1959-60. Ever wonder where records like that come from? I recently decided to look for an answer to that question, not just because Record Store Day is this Saturday but also because there's so little new left to say about the "holiday" itself. How do stores come by the elusive treasures that collectors hunt for in thrift shops, yard sales, and the like? Sometimes, it turns out, they send people to record fairs. So last month I got up before dawn to join Permanent Records store manager Dave McCune on his trek to the Chicagoland Record Collectors Show at a Best Western Hotel in Hillside. Used vinyl is more than half of Permanent's stock, and shopping for it at shows like this is one way a store that knows its audience can beat the crash in sales of music on other physical media. Read more...

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I get it, Pharrell Williams is happy.  He’s happy his “Happy” song eventually topped the charts. He’s happy that people embrace his “singing.” And he’s so happy he cried tears of joy during a recent Oprah Winfrey interview when he saw other people sing his song.

Everyone loved that segment. Pharrell, Oprah, and tears–ratings gold. But outside of the clip, Pharrell had some interesting thoughts on what he refers to as the “new Black:” Read more...

Wednesday, 16 April 2014 19:19

The Ballad of Geeshie and Elvie

In the world of early-20th-century African-American music and people obsessed by it, who can appear from one angle like a clique of pale and misanthropic scholar-gatherers and from another like a sizable chunk of the human population, there exist no ghosts more vexing than a couple of women identified on three ultrarare records made in 1930 and ’31 as Elvie Thomas and Geeshie Wiley. There are musicians as obscure as Wiley and Thomas, and musicians as great, but in none does the Venn diagram of greatness and lostness reveal such vast and bewildering co-extent. In the spring of 1930, in a damp and dimly lit studio, in a small Wisconsin village on the western shore of Lake Michigan, the duo recorded a batch of songs that for more than half a century have been numbered among the masterpieces of prewar American music, in particular two, Elvie’s “Motherless Child Blues” and Geeshie’s “Last Kind Words Blues,” twin Alps of their tiny oeuvre, inspiring essays and novels and films and cover versions, a classical arrangement. Yet despite more than 50 years of researchers’ efforts to learn who the two women were or where they came from, we have remained ignorant of even their legal names. Read more...

Wednesday, 16 April 2014 17:38

Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III, The 2DBZ Edition

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In rap, there are no title belts. For all the posturing and all the perpetual debates, there are no trophies to point to, no photos of Ice Cube with his arm around David Stern while confetti rains down on them. But if O’Shea Jackson can’t hang a banner for the 1990-91 season, he can do the next best thing: lay out tattered vinyl copies of Amerikkka’s Most Wanted and Death Certificate. Most everyone who can lay serious claim to ‘best rapper alive’ status has a singular effort that defines their peaks; Nas has Illmatic, Andre and Big Boi have Aquemini. And then there’s Lil Wayne. Read more...

Al Sharpton: The Greatest Snitch

No one should be surprised that Al Sharpton was a snitch for the federal government. Last week, the Smoking Gun unearthed damning evidence of the reverend's role as a mob rat during the '80s. The exposé detailed how Sharpton became the FBI's "CI-7," toting around a special briefcase outfitted with a secret recording device that caught several wiseguys from the Genovese crime family. He flipped when FBI agents showed Sharpton a videotape of him talking about doing a cocaine deal with an undercover agent posing as a South American kingpin. Initially, Sharpton denied it. Now he's claiming he cooperated with the FBI only because his life had been threatened by gangsters. Yeah, right. Sharpton has been bamboozling African-Americans ever since he joined the civil rights movement. He's always been a government double agent, pretending to help black people when he really does nothing for them. Sharpton is a great showman who can get cameras to follow him around. His job is to fool African-Americans into thinking someone is fighting for them. Read more...

The shocking saga of Major League Baseball's most controversial player. Read more...

Even for those who seem to defy it, time has a rhythm. In a boxing gym, it’s unavoidable: the thwacking of gloves hitting mitts, the slow thump-thump of the heavy bag and the echoing bell that starts and stops all of it. And of course, the constant soundtrack from the speakers. Let the young bucks bop their head to the earthquake beats and pungent rhymes. That’s not Bernard Hopkins. He’s tying his shoes, getting ready for the day’s workout and singing. Read more...

Lindsay Evans’ eyes gravitated to the lower end of the 4-foot-by-6-foot piece of fabric, where the names were so abundant in some neighborhoods that they were stitched on top of each other in a barely legible confluence of Chicago’s violence. “You can see the hurt and confusion in it,” said Evans, 26, a graphic-design student from Philadelphia. Hers is the desired reaction for the group of artists who created “Untitled (Homicide Quilt),” a quilted map of Chicago with the names of each of the city’s homicide victims from last year stitched into the neighborhood where a life ended. Read more...

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During a recent taping of the “Tavis Smiley Show”, President of Music Programming at BET, Stephen Hill finally tells it all. Hill claims the ongoing probe by the FCC, coupled with his reconnection to his new found faith in Jehovah led to this revealing interview that will air during sweeps week on NPR. Tavis Smiley once again shows his journalistic skills in this exclusive detailed interview. Stephen Hill reveals that when he first made the switch to BET from MTV in 1999, he was instructed by Bob Johnson “to dumb the network down”. Hill knew he was brought to BET, due to the imminent sale to MTV’s parent company Viacom. The transition was easy, Hill said. “I simply copied MTV shows like TRL, Tom Green and created 106 & Park. They wanted low budget programming and I have delivered it for 15 years”.Hill admitted to Tavis Smiley that his real problem was catering to the urban market. Hill broke down in tears and admitted that Destiny’s Child “Bills, Bills, Bills” was his all-time favorite song but ironically, it was also the beginning of his lavish life of payola. Hill said, “I knew pay-for-play was working as early as 2005. After watching D4L’s “Laffy Taffy” climb BET’S charts, he knew he could get away with almost anything. Read more...

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Chicago has been in the press lately for all the wrong reasons. Violent crime is at an all-time high. Rampant gang activity has earned the great city the nickname “Chiraq”, a moniker hinting to the war-like reality of some of Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods. Some in the city’s hip hop community seem oddly proud of this troubling depiction, but not all. Despite the violence, there is also positive news coming out of The Chi.  This week, a  coalition of Chicago’s top rappers are heeding the call that hip-hop artists take on more social responsibility — and they said a new music festival and the creation of a youth-oriented job collaborative were just the start. Read more...

Impressive: Bob Anderson was a pro boxer in Las Vegas until he became homeless and headed to a safe haven for people in his position call the Albany Bulb, a little peninsula that juts into the San Francisco Bay and existed, until recently, as a sort of anything goes no-man's land. He built a three-story trash mansion there to live in

A former pro Las Vegas boxer's attempt to rebuild his life took the form of a 3-story home he erected out of scrap wood and trash in a seaside San Francisco encampment once considered safe for the homeless. Bob Anderson built the home by hand over countless man hours with pallets, discarded wood and anything he found useful after he found a refuge in the Albany Bulb, a small peninsula in the San Francisco Bay. He even built a gym of sorts beside his handmade mansion, where he could lift weights and practice boxing. But Anderson's triumph was torn down in March as part of the city of Albany's decision to incorporate the former homeless safe haven into a state park. Journalism student Mark Andrew Boyer stumbled on Anderson's creation while traversing the Bulb and documented his efforts to build the makeshift mansion and the aftermath when it was taken from him. Read more...

Wednesday, 09 April 2014 09:28

Larry Bird Fight Compilation

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I remember the infamous fight with Dr J and the 76ers and I remember him along with every other player in the 80s getting into it with Bill Laimbeer but I can’t say I remember Bird fighting Batman, Andre the Giant (he did fight Kareem the Giant) or Godzilla (that was Charles Barkley). Here’s a few videos of arguably the biggest trash talker in NBA history getting into a few scuffles with some of the biggest and toughest people in the league. Read more...

Disney. What could be more wholesome and innocent? You might want to take a second look at some of that wholesomeness… Read more...

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The sporting world is replete with dark recesses, but sometimes it's parents who are casting shadows rather than guiding their kids toward the light. Read more...

Jay-Z’s bling from ‘whites are devils’ group

Black people are the fathers and mothers of civilization, white men are the devil, the Christian god is nothing more than a ghost and only a small percentage of people understand the world. These are just some of the ­beliefs behind the bling — the gaudy Five Percent Nation ­medallions worn by Jay Z and Carmelo Anthony. Last week, all eyes at the Barclays Center weren’t on Jay Z’s better half, Beyoncé — but on the coaster-size golden pendant swinging from the rapper’s neck as the couple sat courtside. Asked once if the group’s symbol — an eight-pointed star with the number 7 in the middle — held any meaning for him, the rapper shrugged, “A little bit.” So what exactly do Five Percenters believe? Read more...

Friday, 04 April 2014 05:06

Teaching The Camera To See My Skin

I was 12 years old and paging through a photo album; my memories of the days seemed to fade in the photo’s recreation. In some pictures, I am a mud brown, in others I’m a blue black. Some of the pictures were taken within moments of one another. “You look like charcoal,” someone said, and giggled. I felt insulted, but I didn’t have the words for that yet. I just knew that I didn’t want to be seen as a quality of a dark black that would invite hatred on my skin. Read more...

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