Thursday, January 01, 2009

2008 Year In Review

With the new year comes a host of “The Best of 2008” reviews. Sisterdoc thought she’d get in on the action by reflecting on the year's memorable (or crazy). In no particular order:

1. The Olympics. China put on an unmatched Olympics event. I visited China the year before the event, and I got to see first-hand some of the preparations. The Opening and Closing ceremonies were stunningly beautiful—two words that take on glorious new meaning…Bird's Nest. Jamaica showed up and showed out in Track and Field—we’ll never forget Usain Bolt and Shelley Ann-Fraser in the 100. Cullen Jones (Swimming) was overshadowed by Michael Phelps hype. But Phelps can thank Jones for that 4x100 gold medal. The Olympics weren’t all good, however. NBC’s Matt Lauer came off as racist as he made fun of Chinese citizens’ English (Matt, how many languages do you speak?) and when he said that the sound of bass drums during the opening ceremony were “intimidating.” Then there was Angel Matos (Taekwondo) of Cuba. He violently attacked the referees, kicking one of them in the face. For his breach of good sportsmanship, Matos got a lifetime ban from sports.

2. Nathaniel Abraham stepped out of prison in 2007 dressed like a “big baller, shot caller” in a hot pink and white pimp suit after serving 10 years in juvie jail for murdering Ronnie Greene, Jr. back in 1997 when Abraham was a mere 11 years old. Sisterdoc expressed profound confusion at the great outpouring of support for Abraham—free rent, free furniture, college scholarships, a music recording contract, job offers. More, the very day Abraham was released, the Detroit News reported that there are hundreds of sweet, beautiful, loving children in the foster care system, none of whom have even been seen by a dentist or a doctor. Where is all the love for these law abiding children? Surprise, surprise. In 2008, Abraham disappointed us all, throwing away his second chance at the good life by selling ecstasy. After just over a year of freedom, today Abraham is back in jail. Maybe he and O.J. Simpson can exchange letters, lamenting their blown opportunities.

3. The Wire, which ended this year, kept me thoroughly entertained for 5 thrilling seasons. It will go down as the greatest television series of all time…just mark my words. It was smart, realistic, insightful, and explained our sociopolitical world better than Time and Newsweek combined. It had few slips (I’ll let that "Spiderman Omar" mess pass). It also worked to help me understand Kwame Kilpatrick’s and “The Ministers’” hold over The D.

4. Kwame Kilpatrick. When The Wire went off the air, Kilpatrick filled the drama-in-a-chocolate-city void with his “Texts and Sex” scandal. He was cocky ‘til the end, and is planning his political come back as we speak. But there are still some lingering questions: who is Carmen Slowsky? Why did councilperson Barbara Collins come to work wearing a tiara? And, did Carlita Kilpatrick really give exotic dancer Strawberry a beatdown for grinding on Kwame at the Monoogian Mansion just before Strawberry was mysteriously murdered?

5. OBAMA!!!! Actually, as excited as I am about our new POTUS, I am also pretty darn interested in Michelle’s potential. She and ‘Rack have very similar training and credentials, I’d like too see what she is going to contribute to our national and global dialogue. I’d like folks to put to rest now any more talk of her booty, her red dresses, and whether she wears pantyhose or not. Michelle is an intellectual and talented professional…treat her as such. Oh, and don’t dream of throwing a shoe at my new POTUS. Trust...his secret service won’t play that!

6. R. Kelly. I am not sure what I am more shocked about, that R. Kelly beat the pedophile charges even though there is video tape evidence (to include tapes from the botched raid of his home in Florida) or that women were writing in to Essence magazine vehemently defending him. But what beat all was his post-acquittal BET interview with Toure. Toure asked Kelly if he still liked teenage girls. And 41!!! year old Kelly didn’t say “hell NO.” Stupid a$% Kelly said, “When you say teenage, how old are we talking?

7. Michigan. The whole darn state fell apart. The car companies went to the feds hat in hand, and weren’t even smart enough to drive their own vehicles—the photo-op would have been great marketing, but I guess if the companies were forward thinking, they wouldn’t be bankrupt. Then, the University of Michigan’s football team was lead to its first losing season by salty-mouthed coach Rich Rodriguez who doesn’t get the concept of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But, at least Rich Rod isn’t Rod Marinelli who will forever be known as the losingest football coach when he didn’t lead the Detriot Lions anywhere, to include out of a 0-16 losing season.

8. Lots of folk passed on this year. I didn’t see Bernie Mac’s passing coming at all. But Rachelle Farrell sent him off beautifully. As for other celebs, I miss Ivan Dixon a handsome, talented actor who had the stature of a Sidney Poitier. A trailblazer, Dixon should be remembered for far more than Hogan’s Heroes or Car Wash. Remember him for Nothing But a Man or The Spook Who Sat by the Door. I miss Rudy Ray Moore…I mean, he didn’t take himself too, too seriously and his “raps” and dozens playing still stand the test of time (though we’ll pretend that Petey Wheatstraw, Devil’s Son-in-Law didn’t happen). Levi Stubbs’ passing hurt, particularly in a year when Chris Brown and Lil’ Wayne are entertainers of the year. Stubbs had a pure, soulful, resonating voice. There will never be another. I miss Eartha Kitt. She was more than Cat Woman (Prrrr) or Lady Eloise (“Marrr-cus Darr-ling”). Kitt was on the right side of politics, ecological matters, and racial pride.

9. Ashley Todd. She claimed a Black man in “shiny shoes” in the Bloomfield neighborhood of my Pittsburgh assaulted her at an ATM, carving a “B” on her face…presumably for Barack Obama. Todd lied, and she made several mistakes in the process… #1 A Black man doing dirt on well-traveled Friendship Ave., in the predominately Italian-American neighborhood of Bloomfield. Only Todd, who is from Texas, would fail to realize that Pittsburgh is not just a city of neighborhoods, but it is a city of segregated neighborhoods, and that nobody is going to miss a seemingly prolonged assault on Friendship Ave. #2 “Shiny shoes”…tee hee. She’s been watching too many blaxploitation movies. #3 the ‘ole BBM/”Gus” claim. Todd said a “big Black man” threw her to the ground, tried to sexually assault her, tried to rob her…all with a dull knife. Then, he took the time to carve a “B” on her face. #4 The backward “B” carved on her face indicating self-mutilation. #5 Asst. Chief Maurita Bryant don’t play!

10. Wal-Mart. Poor wages, virtually non-existent health care benefits, forced overtime, and being “on call” on days off. Hostile company take-overs, union busting, sexist and racist hiring practices. Dirty stores, low-quality meats and produce, made-in-America is really made in China, Swaziland, and Bangladesh under horrific conditions. Sisterdoc has heard all the Wal-Mart tales, but somehow the trampling death of Jdimytai Damour on Black Friday after a poorly planned, aggressive Black Friday marketing campaign was just too much.

(Images: Barbara Rose Collins; Angel Matos; Ivan Dixon)

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