Monthly Archives: January 2009

First Class All the Way

Ya really gotta love Serena Williams.
First of all, some congrats: By reaching two Australian Open Finals she broke golf star Annika Sorenstam’s record for career prize money by a female athlete with nearly $23 million. 

That’s even if she loses in both the singles and the doubles (with her sister Venus).

When reporters told her about her record-breaking mark, Serena reportedly spoke about her first prize-winning check of $240 that she got from an 1995 Canadian event.

Having money like that must be really nice. If you ever wanted to know what motivates homegirl to win, well,  let’s just say that in this case she certainly wasn’t humming Beyonce’s “Upgrade U” as she fought through her quarterfinal match…She’s a long way from 240 bucks…
Like I said, you really gotta love this chick…!

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Fool Me Once…

Quote of the Day: “I’ve seen the future and it will be/I’ve seen the future and it works…” “The Future” by Prince

I was recently “defriended” (“unfriended”?) by an old friend on Facebook. I don’t know why. I must have pissed him off. I do have a long-time habit of doing that, and usually that would result in him just not speaking to me. Now, in the cyber world, I guess there’s a new way to express (or not express?) one’s displeasure with someone, rather than just not return calls or ignore texts—defriend the person. I’d heard of it happening, but never experienced it until now. It’s a strange feeling—at least in the Real World, you know the calls are not being returned or the texts are not being answered. But defriending? It’s akin to stealth-bombing, because you never know it’s happened until, well, you know it’s happened. I used to say that I was officially a member of the 21st century when I was one of hundreds of peeps laid off by a splashy dot-com company back in 2000. Now, I really feel like I’m living in the future. And I feel fine…

The New York Times did a cute piece about the culture of “defriending”. Check it out here.

Wow, it really is the future. Apparently the great Gabriel Garcia Marquez will be digitally publishing a novel, bypassing paper and going right to e-book. Is this going to be the trend from now on? Info here.

Do you think you could write a novel in 70 word bites so people can read them on their cell phones? They do in Japan. One of the books was so successful it spawned a whole industry around it, including a movie adaptation. According to Galleycat, 86% of Japanese teens read novels this way. Actually I don’t know why I feel surprised by this: isn’t Gossip Girl essentially writing a big Jane Austen-meets-Tom Wolfe novel of social manners with the posts she blasts about Serena, Dan et al? I love those moments on the show when those tweeny girls come up to Dan and lambaste him for his latest foul-up, like he’s Penn Badgely or some other celeb guy having a public affair with his beautiful co-star. It’s so, um, meta!

The word on the street is that Cheo Hodari Coker’s about to be following up his NOTORIOUS success by writing the Run-DMC movie. Homeboy did The SPB Q last week, and every time I asked him what new thing he had in the works, he jumped past the question…It’s all good. Never spoil it before it’s official, right? Congrats to Cheo!

Bye Bye, Betty: ABC’s putting Ugly Betty away for a while to give Samantha Who her due. Samantha Who? I like Christina Applegate and all but if she ain’t re-doing Samantha Stevens, the cute blonde witch living with her ad exec hubby Darrin, consider me not interested in watching ABC on Thursday nights anymore. I was really into UB this season, and its sad to see it go this way. What is ABC’s problem? Can’t they give a show a break already? Didn’t America Ferrara win an Emmy a coupla years back? Isn’t Vaness Williams as Wilhemina Slater the most deliciously vain and evil villain since JR Ewing? Okay, I’ll calm down now…But all I’m saying is this, if you like TV like I like TV, don’t get to attached to Life on Mars, kids. I can feel it: It’ll be following Eli Stone, Pushing Daisies, and Ugly Betty right into hiatus-cancellation-oblivion land any day now….(then again, if it does, you can always buy or rent the original Brit version, which is The. Bomb.)

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Sex sells (sometimes…)

Quote of the Day: “Sexuality is all I’ll ever need/Sexuality, I’m gonna let my body be free…” “Sexuality” by Prince

Since I got all sentimental on Monday and talked about my new teaching position, we had to save the sex for today. 

Here are two commercials getting talked about all over the place, one a French safe sex campaign, the other one a notorious, now-banned Peta ad that won’t be running during the Super Bowl festival of commercials…Too sexy for their adverts? You decide…click below…

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WayBack Wednesdays: The Girl Most Likely To…

Quote of the Day: “I don’t steal and I don’t lie/But I can feel and I can cry/A fact I bet you never knew…” — “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” from Grease

Long before the great Stockard Channing was winning Tonys and Emmys and getting nominated for Oscar; a few years before she was the sizzling hot, torch-singing Betty Rizzo

of Grease fame; long before she embodied Ouisa Kittredge, the ultra-sophisticated Park Avenue doyenne of Six Degrees of Separation or was stealing scenes on The West Wing and captivating Broadway audiences, she was a frumpy coed named Miriam Knight.

Miriam was the lead character of an ABC TV movie (back when made-for-TV movies meant something) called The Girl Most Likely To… Written by comedian Joan Rivers, it’s the story of a fat, unattractive girl who just wants to be loved. She’s the butt of jokes, used and abused by the beautiful people around her, too nice for her own good. Then she’s in a car accident and everything changes. Not only is Miriam now beautiful–thanks to some ace plastic surgery–but she’s also bent for revenge.

I saw this hilarious movie a bit after its first run in 1973; I think it was on the “The 4:30 Movie” after doing my homework through General Hospital and The Edge of Night. I became hooked and never missed it whenever it re-ran. And, no lie, I became Stockard Channing’s biggest fan. (Anyone who can score a brotha some tix to Pal Joey on Broadway, shout me out!)

It’s hard to talk too much about The Girl Most Likely To…without giving too much away. But if you want to catch a ridiculous, funny, sorta sad, but oddly, cynically uplifting flick, get it—it FINALLY made it DVD a coupla years ago. If you love 70s TV, especially when it’s served up as cleverly as this, with a typical I-Love-The-70s TV cast of actors like Ed Asner, Larry Wilcox, Jim Backus, and The Love Boat’s Fred Grandy, you’ll enjoy this flick. But if you were ever teased—for how you looked, for the things you liked, for where you came from or the baby fat you carried around, even to college—you will LOVE this flick. If you were the teaser, well, I’ll just say, revenge (and good movies about revenge) can be a real motivator for some…so watch out!

Here are some scenes from The Girl Most Likely To…:
When she was fat and treated like crap…

Back to Get Even…

And just as an added bonus…”There Are Worse Things I Can Do,” to my mind, one of the finest, realest moments in Grease:

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Filed under flicks, Stockard Channing, WayBack Machine

Streak of the Week

Quote of the Day: “The king is altogether as naked as the day he was born…” “The King’s New Clothes” from Hans Christian Andersen

So apparently some guy decided to streak across the court during the Williams sisters’ doubles match the other day. There are pics on the Net, if you like to see what TV usually won’t show you. After the jump there’s a link to pics of the dude. WARNING: Don’t go if the nude male body distracts or repulses or annoys or scares you! Just sayin

(This whole situation sorta reminds me of a rather coarse (but funny) buddy of mine who said, after Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction a few years ago, “You know whose wardrobe malfunction I’d like to see? Serena Williams’.” Like that would ever happen…)

The pics (care of

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The SPB Q: Toure

Quote of the Day: “See me walking around, I’m the boy about town that you’ve heard of…” — “Boy About Town” by The Jam

The first time I met Toure, in the summer of 1992, he was sitting on a couch in the lobby of VIBE magazine, waiting to meet with me. With, I believe, no appointment. The kid had balls. He’d already contacted me at SPIN magazine the year before, telling me that he liked the work I was doing there, but we’d never met. Just out of school, arriving in NYC like so many other wannabes before him, he pounded the pavement, did what he had to do and made it happen, developing into a vivid and intelligent writer of both journalism and fiction (Check out The Portable Promised Land, a sublime collection of short stories; his most recent book is Never Drank the Kool-Aid: Essays) Over the years he transformed himself in a funny, quotable TV pundit and host—he’s one of the rare writers who’s talking voice (and articulation of ideas with it) is as interesting as his written one. I remember a friend of mine used to tease me (and indirectly, Toure) because I  was friends with (and a proto-mentor to) a one-named guy—“Who does he think he is, Madonna? Jesus? You got two last names, Scott, you should give him one of yours!”—but I’m still friends with Toure, and barely speak to the other guy, who had the requisite first and last names, and still couldn’t pull it together enough to make his writing life happen the way Toure did. That other kat’s now back in his hometown writing me bitter letters of regret about all the bridges he burned in New York back in the day. And Toure’s a one-named success story, doing his thing…(That VIBE couch was an interesting place to chill that summer; another brotha hung out there, also telling us how large he was eventually gonna be: his name was Maxwell…)

Name: Toure

Hometown: Randolph, Massachussetts

Zodiac sign: Pisces

Favorite book: Lolita

Favorite author: Nabokov

Favorite movie: The Godfather: Part II

Favorite old school hiphop song: “Eric B Is President” by Eric B. and Rakim

Favorite recent rap record: “Swagger Like Us” by T.I., Jay-Z, Lil Wayne & Kanye

Favorite video: I can’t think of one that ever rose to the level of favorite. Was the genre ever that good? If it was that was years ago. Videos are over. They were once so important to an artist’s conversation with fans but no more.

Best Live Show You’ve Seen: Prince, several times.

Favorite word: Zeitgeist.

Biggest influence as an thinker: Cornel West because he gave me the vision of how to be a cool, modern black intellectual.

Career High: So many. Playing poker with Jay-Z and winning thousands… Playing basketball with Prince… Playing tennis with Jennifer Capriati… Getting R. Kelly to admit to liking teenage girls.

Life High: Every day with my baby is amazing. I can’t say his birth is the highest point because every day he grows and changes and it’s thrilling.

You’re on a desert island and can only save 5 CDs. What are they?:

Songs in the Key of Life by Stevie Wonder
American Gangster by Jay-Z
Louis Armstrong Plays WC Handy
Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood by Nina Simone
Paid in Full by Eric B and Rakim

Your favorite quote: “Always try and do too much. Dispense with safety nets. Take a deep breath before talking. Aim for the stars. Keep grinning. Be bloody-minded. Argue with the world.” — Salman Rushdie

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Filed under books, The SPB Q

Starting Anew

Quote of the Day: “How can you thank someone/Who has taken you from crayons to perfume…” — “To Sir With Love” by Lulu

Today is the first day of the rest of my life.

Due to some unforeseen (but not highly unexpected) petty tyrannies dramatics, I am no longer, for the most part, a journalist. I did it for many, many years. I did it well. I helped finesse, according to a nicely-worded compliment from a complete stranger the other day, a new genre of journalism that helped define my generation.

But it’s a fickle world, the world of media—of New York media, in particular—and I found that out in the way most people do. But let’s not dwell on the past. Let’s emphasize the present and the future. Hiphop and hiphop journalism was good to me, and I think I was good to it. Now it’s time for a change. Many of you know that I went back to college last year, to finally finish my undergrad degree at Brown University. One of the reasons I did it was because I knew that at some point in my life I was going to teach, to share whatever sorta knowledge I’d acquired over the years with that next generation of writers and thinkers and doers the same way generous, smart people did for me 20 years ago. I certainly didn’t think my chance would come so soon. But it is true, as my mother always told me: When God closes one door, He always opens another—or at least a window that will get the same job done.

Now, here I find myself, today, January 26, 2009, starting my new life as a teacher. I’ll be standing at the front of a class at Brown University, teaching a course of my own devising, called Journalism and Black Popular Cultures. Luckily, students here seem interested in taking it, and excited about taking it. A few weeks from now, I start to find out from graduate schools if they’ve accepted or rejected me, and I will be, hopefully, as of September, a PhD student, preparing to start my new life as a professor and researcher. Yeah, I realized I’m sorta doing it the backwards way—it wouldn’t be the first time, believe me—teaching at an Ivy League university before even getting the advanced degree usually needed to do it. But maybe that’s part of the fun. First, an adjunct; later, the world!

So, all you faithful SCOTT TOPICS readers, wish a brotha luck as he starts this new phase, not looking back, only looking forward to the new worlds of challenge and adventure to come his way. Send me ideas; offer me advice; show me the way. I’m listening.

By the by, an oooooold friend from my very early days in journalism got in touch with me recently after hearing about this new adventure. We laughed about the old days, the mistakes we made, the triumphs (and tears) we shared. Then she mentioned one night, back in 1990, just after I’d left Brown that second and final time back then, when we lay on the couch in my tiny studio apartment in Brooklyn and watched a video of To Sir, With Love, a British film from the 60s that starred Sidney Poitier as a teacher in an English school. “You’re Sir, now,” she said, laughing. “Not quite,” I told her. “Brown students may be many things but they’re not juvenile delinquents. Well, not all the time, anyway.” We had another laugh over the long distance phone lines and shared some more memories. When we got off the phone, I had to think about it. Would I be a “Sir” to some kid like me, some baby Ivy Leaguer who thinks she or he has what it takes to stride boldly into the New York media world and try to conquer it with her voice and words? Maybe, maybe not. But I did have to think about the “Sirs”, male and female, who helped show me the way: from Hempstead High School, Miss Brett Truitt and Ms Sandra Dunn and Mrs, Sharon Fitzpatrick (RIP); from the early days at Brown: Meredith Steinbach and Patrick Comiskey and Tricia Rose and the dearly departed George Houston Bass and Roger Henkle; from the Village Voice, Greg Tate and Richard Goldstein and Lisa Jones and Vince Aletti and Donald Suggs—and all the other “Sirs” who taught me, scolded me, challenged me, helped me. I start this new adventure with you on my mind and in my heart.

To all those Sirs, I share one of my favorite songs from a scene in one of my favorite movies:

TOMORROW–A funny and smart SPB Q is coming down the pike….stay tuned!


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