Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Year in Music: 2006

The following piece also appears at Machine Gun It just so happens to be the last thing I'll ever write for MGF, so if you were to print this up and take it to the bathroom, it'd be a collector's item. Please wash your hands.

Album of the Year: Lupe Fiasco, Food & Liquor…M'boy from the "Nick'a Please" days first turned me on to Lupe well before his album was released. From there, I found some of Fiasco's mixtape material from the local mom n' pop record shop. For most of '06, Nick and I had a mutual CD burning exchange program and he hooked me up with Food & Liquor. It's a daring, risky and spectacular debut. Just the shot of substance that the industry needed.

Plus, it was stolen when my car was broken into a few weeks ago. If that's not the sign of a hot album, I don't know what is!

Song of the Year: "One Blood" (Remix), The Game featuring Jim Jones, Snoop Dogg, Nas, T.I., Fat Joe, Lil' Wayne, N.O.R.E., Jadakiss, Styles P, Fabolous, Juelz Santana, Rick Ross, Twista, Kurupt, Daz Dillinger, WC, E-40, Bun B, Chamillionaire, Slim Thug, Young Dro, Clipse and Ja Rule…

Yeah, I can't believe it, either. The words "song of the year" appearing next to names like "Chamillionaire", "T.I." and "Styles P".

Clocking in at over 11 minutes, this one gets the nod from me simply by being the most ambitiously prolific rap release I've ever heard. The Game has probably burned the bridges of support that were built for him on the East Coast during his whole "scorch the earth" feud with almost everyone in the industry. Still, even accounting for the lyrical shortcomings of some of the performers, it's the closest thing to "unity" we've had since that Queen Latifah track from 1993 ("Who you callin' a bitch?!")

Story of the Year: Well, of course the death of James Brown trumps all. IP's Eric Szulczewski penned a respectful tribute to the hardest working man in show business back on Christmas Day.

So, with that avenue covered, I'm going with the abject collapse of rap music sales as my (runner-up) story of the year.

My "album of the year" has so far moved about 200,000 units. I'd put The Game's Doctor's Advocate as my silver medalist and after selling about 350K (and debuting at #1) its first week, it slid right out of the top 10 the following week.

Those in the industry point to the runaway success of ringtones and legal downloads as the preferred way for fans to hear the music they want, but the 800 lb. elephant in the room can be ignored.

Rap music's current commercial state is…not good. Southern rappers have cooned the product right back to slave days. Meanwhile, the usually surefire success stories are releasing the exact same tracks that they were five years ago (Jay-Z, Nas, The Wu-Tang Jive Time Band) and ten years ago (Snoop Dogg, Tupac).

Sadly, there doesn't appear to be any recovery on the horizon. Hip Hop may not be dead, but the organ harvest team is on standby.

Non-Story of the Year: Every week, I get my haircut at a barbershop in the North Park section of San Diego. It's owned and operated by a brutha who moved out here from New York over 10 years ago. It's the most authentic "barbershop experience" you'll ever find, with loud men, louder music and the occasional bootleg distributor making the rounds.

My barber insists that this is the "New York style" of shops and, if that's the case, one thing is perfectly clear: y'all New York bruthas can cry like some bitches.

If I hear one more sad story about how the "New York" rap game is in trouble or New York artists don't get no radio play or New York artists don't get no promotion…

This just in, East Coast…the entire industry is in trouble, no one outside of Atlanta and its suburbs (y'know, Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana, etc.) is getting real radio play and, other than Jay-Z, can anyone name any rapper that's gotten any real promotion this year?

Ah, but since New York is the cradle of rap civilization we're all to assume the sky is falling just because these crybabies feel a few drops of rain on their played-out Yankee fitted.

Sorry, East Coast, but you're not immune to the same commercial criticism I'm serving to the South. Y'all heard that Busta Rhymes Big Bang album, right? Garbage. Ditto for just about anything with "G-Unit" on the front or back of the CD case. And, don't get me started on acts like Fat Joe, Diddy and that terrible Theodore Unit album that came out under Ghostface's name a few weeks ago.

Jesus, I feel better, already.

Other '06 Headlines

Three-6 Mafia Win an Oscar - Trust me, kids…Black people weren't happy about this. But, it led to the surreal sight of these clowns on "Ellen", so we'll call it a wash.

1,000,000,000th song downloaded on iTunes - Where were you on February 22 when Coldplay's "Speed of Sound" found its way onto the hard drive of Hayley in Hoboken?

Taylor Hicks wins American Idol - Apparently, first prize was an entire summer spent infesting every show I watched with his silver-maned mincing in that Ford commercial.

Britney Spears and Kevin Federline give birth! - Well, one of 'em does, anyway. Their second child is named Jayden James and he reeks of Old Milwaukee and OxyContin.

Weird Al Yankovic gets first top 10 song - Are you kidding me? Seriously, "Eat It" didn't crack the top 10 back in the '80s? That song was everywhere 20+ years ago. Well, congratulations to Al. Here's hoping this modicum of music success finally opens the doors of the entertainment industry to those of the Jewish faith.

Lance Bass is gay - "You know. Light-hearted, fancy-free. 'Mothers, lock up your daughters! Smithers Lance Bass is on the town!'" Yep, I'm stealing Simpsons quote right up to the end.

In Memoriam

Lou Rawls - Still waiting on that kick down from your United Negro College Fund telethons, Lou. I didn't sit through years of Willie Tyler & Lester and Nipsey Russell begging for our money just so I could pay my own way through school.

Wilson Pickett - I'd just like to point out that m'man Warren G. borrowed Pickett's "In the Midnight Hour" for a song (and the title) of his most recent album. Legend-to-legend…always good to see.

J Dilla - Sorry, but there's an unwritten rule here at IP that you can't make fun of dead guys who happen to be the darlings of one or two IP writers, regardless of whether or not said writers had ever written one word about the artist when he/she was alive. We call it the "Dimebag Darrell Edict".

Professor X - Now, this one hurt. Seriously. What? Y'know, Aaron Cameron isn't always in "Bootleg Guy" mode.

Gene Pitney - What the…? I thought she was already dead? Hell, she was born in 1855, so I'm kinda surprised that a 151-year-old woman's passing wasn't a bigger news story. Ironic that she outlived Cicely Tyson, the actress who portrayed her so wonderfully in 1974's…wait, that was Jane Pittman. Their names kinda sound alike.

June Pointer - Was she still in the group when The Pointer Sisters did "Neutron Dance" from the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack? I loved that song. And, that movie! Keep your eyes peeled or you'll miss a young Bronson Pinchot and Damon Wayans!

Proof - In the days following the tragic death of this Detroit MC, his best friend Eminem said, "Without Proof there would be no Eminem, no Slim Shady, no D12." A little late for Mathan, but now the rest of you know who to blame.

Billy Preston - 20 solo albums, a pair of number one hits and the dude wrote "You Are So Beautiful". More impressive to me is that he died in Scottsdale, Arizona. Not counting baseball's spring training or the residences of some of the Phoenix Suns, who knew Black folk lived there?

Jessie Mae Hemphill - She was a blues singer or something. Sadly, no relation to the more famous Shirley Hemphill of What's Happening?! and What's Happening Now?! fame, who died a few years ago.

Freddy Fender - Remember when the red states didn't hate Mexicans. Freddy does.

Gerald Levert - Mrs. Bootleg is still grieving. He's supposedly releasing a new album in February which, if Biggie Smalls is any indication, will be lavished with undeserved praise and hailed as a classic, even though it's about 20 songs too long with way too many reaches for radio.

And, that about wraps up our recap of the year that was. I hope you had as much fun uncomfortably laughing at my jokes in poor taste as I did writing them. A special thanks to that Nick'a Please guy for (unknowingly) giving me a few ideas for this piece and for supplying a lot of the music that I didn't pay for this year.

To my readers…have a happy and safe 2007!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Scouting Report: Gregg Jefferies

During my run over at Inside Pulse and 411mania, I had several ideas for features that never saw the light of day. Some of them were aborted, mid-way, by my own hand (note to my readers in every state, except California and New York: it's just a figure of speech). There were others that I simply never had time to start. This one falls into the latter category, as I couldn't shake the thought that it would only be interesting to me. So, we'll see how it goes. If there's one thing THAT BOOTLEG GUY won't stand for, it's using this colossal blog for my own self-serving interests.

Now, those of you who know me probably know that I'm the last Black baseball fan in captivity. I came up in the late '80s/early '90s following those steroid-laden A's teams of Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. I was there in 1990 when ESPN turned a regional, one-nationally-televised-game-a-week sport into the overexposed 200-minute broadcast monstrosity that we all know and love…or hate.

About 15 years ago, I bought my first copy of an annually-published book called "The Scouting Report". It was put out by the eggheads at STATS, Inc. (the all caps company name is theirs, not mine). It was billed as "the most in-depth analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of every active major league baseball player".

In the 1991 edition, nearly 700 players were featured, with analysis of their hitting, pitching, defense, baserunning, etc.

As with pretty much anything from that long ago, the only purpose it serves me now is to retroactively mock its glowing praise or pointed criticism of players who ultimately flopped or flourished, respectively. And, first up is one of my all-time favorite failures:

Gregg Jefferies

TSR Sez: "He is one of the great young hitting talents in the game today. Still developing at age 23, Jefferies hits for average and power. He has a picture-perfect compact swing from both sides of the plate. He has the potential to lead the league in batting average. There is no safe way to pitch Jefferies…He is the only untouchable among Mets' position players going into 1991. If he can stay hot…baseball fans are going to be hearing plenty about this rising young star."

Hilarious! Jefferies was "untouchable" for about 11 more months, before the Mets shipped him off to Kansas City with emotionless paperweight, Kevin McReynolds. In exchange, the Royals sent Bret Saberhagen to New York.

Jefferies would ultimately play for six teams in a 14-year career that saw him make a pair of All Star teams and finish with almost 1,600 career hits. Still, Jefferies made his debut at the age of 19 during the '87 season and in an era that pre-dated the 24/7 ESPN hype machine, Jefferies was hailed in all circles as the next big thing.

Turns out, Jefferies became one of the most despised players within his own clubhouse on those Mets teams. Notoriously selfish and stubborn, he never warmed up to the media, which is pretty much the death blow any athlete in The Big Apple.

Jefferies' rise and fall coincided with my brief baseball card collecting life. And, if anyone out there wants some bulk Rated Rookie cards, just let a brutha know.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

From our Xmas Thank You Card Collection

Dear Sampson* Family,

Thank you so much for Kid Cameron's new drum set. I can't think of a better Christmas gift for 2-year-old boy who already can't control the volume of his own voice. And, I especially appreciate the authenticity of this audacious gift! Did you know it came with a bass drum and two snare drums? Unfortunately, the boy has spent virtually all of his studio time beating the cymbal to death. Since Christmas Day, it's been the equivalent of lightning strikes in our living room every 11 seconds. Thankfully, Jalen has found a way to break the quiet monotony of a week off for Mrs. Bootleg and me. And, for that, we say…payback is coming.

Warm regards,
The Cam Fam

(*Not their real name, but pretty damn close…)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Miss USA? More Like "Miss Nude-SA"! (Sorry.)

For those of us who love our beauty queens good n' humiliated, the last eight days have been a modern-day Christmas miracle.

A few weeks back, Miss USA, Tara Connor, nearly lost her matching tiara and sash set amid accusations of underage drinking and drug use. It took a tearful, apologetic press conference for Connor to retain her title. Afterwards, she was given a choice by show organizers: 28 days in a rehab facility or a single viewing of 28 Days, the Sandra Bullock movie about a rehab facility.

Connor will be out in about a month.

Meanwhile, out in the Land of Mathan, another pageant scandal unfolds.

Reigning Miss Nevada, Katie Rees, was stripped of her title after some scrumptious scandalous photos appeared online. Our new best friends over at TMZ have the evidence in question.

And, for that link, I don't think I have to tell you that the NSFW light is on (and poppin'!)

Rees and her attorneys insist that the photos were taken when Rees was 17, at a party in Florida. Of course, as a father and husband, I'm force to react with copious amounts of false shock and awe. I mean, this is how today's teenagers act out at parties?!

In reality, here's what I'm thinking.

On December 23, Rees held a press conference and asked for a second chance:

"This incident does not reflect who I am, or who I plan to be. I have no intention of further disgracing the state of Nevada, the Miss Universe organization, or Mr. Donald Trump."

Well, that's a relief. Heaven knows Nevada should never be associated with nights full of drunk co-eds and, hours later, insolvency and regret. And, as for The Donald, how did one sh*tty reality show (and dozens of infinitely sh*ttier reality show recap columns) wash the repulsive ooze off this guy? He was the archetype of '80s excess, but has spent the last 15 years as a self-parody with a stock portfolio.

And, now he has young women begging him for a second chance.

That settles it…starting January 1, I'm getting a job and a savings account.

Meanwhile, back to Rees…my favorite quote from her press conference is below:

"Please don't let your guard down when it comes to being photographed. As you can see, just one mistake can have a great consequence."

Now, I'm gonna go out on a limb here and guess that Rees wasn't a math major at California University, but over at TMZ, I counted nearly 20 times when the "guards weren't at their posts".

Hell, if anything, she should be embracing these photos, not running from them.

Of the three women who appear the most often, Rees is easily the hottest of the bunch. No offense to the other two, who can surely fall back on their daytime identities as The Iron Sheik's granddaughter (dark hair, turquoise top) and post-op transsexual (the really ugly, breast-enhanced blonde).

Sunday, December 24, 2006

TBG Reviews Rocky Balboa

But, first the trailers…

Transformers - Those of you who've read me long enough know that The Transformers hold a special place in and around my aorta. I grew up on Optimus Prime and his Autobot posse, while rooting for Megatron and his roster of red-eyed devils. And, now I'm convinced that Michael Bay is a greater threat to earth than Unicron ever was. This doesn't just look bad…it looks bad. Big, loud and dumb. It opens July 4 and yes, I'll be there. Shut up, it's got Jazz!

Lucky You- Well, I hate America's current craze with all things poker, but this one should make it into theaters before the renaissance of hearts happens. Eric Bana is apparently obsessed with the game, while Drew Barrymore apparently plays the same along-for-the-ride wife or girlfriend that she played in last year's Fever Pitch. Bob Duvall plays Bana's father and is quite the player in his own right. Just a guess at the ending: father and son end up at the same table and son beats father with a bluff that his old man taught him at age 8. Meh.

Blood & Chocolate - After watching, quite possibly, the worst trailer in the history of cinema, I can only assume that the alternate title was "An American Werewolf in Dawson's Creek". Seriously, people in the audience were howling (sorry) at this one. And, then, when the title flashed on screen… I mean, how did Eric Roberts not land a part in this?

Wild Hogs - Joe Reid might rip up my temporary movie guy membership for this, but this looks more than watchable. John Travolta, Tim Allen, William H. Macy and Martin Lawrence play four middle aged men who form a biker…uh, gang (or whatever assembled urban white guys become). I laughed at most of what I saw, despite the obvious two strikes going in: Martin Lawrence (who should really get the name of that bee that stung him and see someone about the full-body swelling) and Tichina Arnold who, I assume, plays his love interest. Y'know those loud Black women that keep the stereotype alive? That's Mrs. Bootleg. Oh, and Tichina, too.

Rocky Balboa

About 20 minutes in, Rocky is standing next to the torn-down ice rink where he and Adrian skated 30 years ago in the original Rocky. From a few feet away, Paulie shouts out, "It's depressing! It's cold!"

That about sums up the first third of the movie. Since it's common knowledge that Rocky's wife, Adrian, was killed off, I don't mind saying that the "scenes of mourning" go on way too long. Rocky takes us to the old pet store where she worked, the ice rink, the cemetery…meanwhile, everyone wants Rocky to get on with his life, but he…just…can't.

The set-up to get Rocky back in the ring is patently ridiculous, but along the way, his interactions with his son (Milo Ventimiglia) and a grown-up girl from his past (Geraldine Hughes) are, dare I say…entertaining? Sure, each scene with them is written for the sole purpose of concluding with another quasi-inspirational platitude ("be proud of yourself!") but they still work for me.

It's the fight sequences that I had the biggest problem with. The fight itself was fine and typical Rocky stuff, even though the ending can be seen before the bell even rings.

So, in no particular order (no spoilers, of course)…

Larry Merchant - He's the insufferable color commentator on HBO's boxing broadcasts and he has a cameo here. In real life, Merchant talks like a stroke victim who might someday hope to regain 50% of his faculties. Here, he's reciting lines that someone else has written and the result is unlistenable.

Three-6 Mafia - Their music is used as Mason Dixon's (Antonio Carver) entrance theme. Here's the whole song: "Get yo' ass knocked out wif the right, left, right, left, right, left…Get yo' ass knocked out wif the right, left, right, left, right, left…

The post-fight reaction of Mason Dixon - Can't give too much away, but if that's how a 20-something champion reacts after taking a beating from a 50-something has-been…

On a four-star scale, this one's somewhere around a two. On a nostalgia scale, it's off the charts. After a slow start, it builds into everything I remembered when I was eleven years old. For fans of the Rocky series, only, but still better than I thought it would be.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

"It Rubs The Lotion on Its Skin..."

Pink was another long-time Bootleg punching bag and I'm glad to see she's still out there fighting for the rights of the underprivileged, when she's not emasculating the NFL all by herself.

And, in quite the surprising development, the vocally-challenged liberal rabble-rouser has teamed with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in a new campaign against…wool.

"I am calling on consumers to check labels on sweaters before buying them, and if they're merino wool or made in Australia, to leave them on the racks."

Obviously, as a native Californian, she lost me at "sweaters" long before she made it to "merino". But, let's still see if this goes anywhere, 'K?

Pink was in Kuala Lumpur France earlier this week and held a news conference before her concert at Paris Bercy Arena. She aired a four-minute video for the assemblage of local scribes and other assorted cheese-eating surrender monkeys.

The video shows the mutilation of several lambs as chunks of their skin is carved from their backs without any anesthetic. This process is known as "mulesing" and…hey, wait a minute. "Lambs"…"hand-carved back fat"…it sounds like Buffalo Bill is back to his serial-killing/dress making ways!

Well, that answers everything. Pink obviously fell asleep in front of the TV, while TBS was showing one of their hourly airings of The King of Queens repeats. Later, I assume she awoke, only to discover Ted Levine dancing around in half of a homemade (hand-made!) "woman suit" up on her plasma-screen.

From there, Pink saw the title of the movie and assumed that the "victims" were lambs, instead of full-figured college-aged co-eds whom America wouldn't miss, anyway.

Oh, don't look at me like that. The Facts of Life, anyone?

Thought so.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I Hate Those Blogs That Only Link to Other Blogs...

Most of you reading this are already familiar with m'man, Joe Reid. We wrote together on 411mania, then when I moved on to Inside Pulse, I made sure that all of his new A-material appeared in my column, semi-regularly. The leftovers and outtakes can still be found at his Low Resolution blog.

Joe and I have been waging a war of attrition by prediction over on his site. Weekly NFL picks where the winner will be showered with praise and the loser will be taunted and booed until my throat is sore. Anyways, a sample of the weekly hilarity is below. All the rest can be found every week (well, for one more week) at
Low Resolution.

Minnesota at Green Bay

Aaron: Our friends at the NFL Network are hyping this as possibly Brett Favre's "last game at Lambeau". And, for the next three years thru the 2009 season, ESPN, NBC and Fox have agreed to rotate the rights to Favre's next "last games at Lambeau".
Pick: Green Bay

Joe: Seriously, people who keep teasing their retirement only to back off, then return, then semi-retire, then get dragged back, and then leave to start a blog play one more year are SO annoying.
Pick: Green Bay

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Reason I Don't Drink (at Xmas Parties)...

So, the year end insanity has got me working 12 hour days with barely enough time to come home and neglect my wife and son. In the meantime, here's some vintage Goodness from the intro of my December 16, 2005 column...

Every year, about three weeks before Christmas, one of my wife's co-workers throws the biggest holiday party in San Diego County.

The hostess and her husband begin the festivities around 4:00 PM and the event often extends into the wee hours of the next morning. In fact, it's not unusual for close to 100 people to make their way through for some holiday cheer, in the form of free food and the shape of free booze.

Over the last several years, Mrs. Bootleg and I have been invited and every year our separate routines repeat themselves. And, for any of you who've ever been to one of your significant other's work functions, I think you know the routine for which I speak.

The annual holiday gala guest list is made almost entirely of employees from my wife's company. Admittedly, that's not exactly a surprise…until you realize that me and the wife are pretty much the only husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend (or "other", um, colorful California coupling) that don't work together at this unnamed place.

Imagine, if you will, having to spend 8-10 hours day just a cubicle's length from your mate, then carpooling home to spend the rest of your waking hours each day with the same person. You don't even get weekends off. Hell, have you heard the rumor that Tookie Williams was offered a choice of commuting his death sentence to a life sentence similar to the above example?

Tookie chose wisely.

Anyways, all of this is my usually elongated way of saying those eight-plus hours of the wife and her co-workers talking shop isn't exactly a "party", so much as it's a 500-minute lunch hour. The only difference is that their cafeteria's stainless steel prison trays have been replaced with Christmas-themed Dixie plates.

We arrived around 7:00 PM and the wife immediately abandoned me to work the room. I fixed myself a lonely bachelor's plate of seasonal, yet festive finger foods such as rolled tacos and Lil' Smokies and assumed the traditional party position of the husband who doesn't fit in. That meant standing next to the wife and pretending that some of my snacks were meant for my better half.

This real-time audio employee newsletter lasted for most of the early evening, before I finally discovered the bar from afar.

While the wife and her friends reminisced (again) about all of their on-the-job anecdotes from the past day or two, I sat down in front of a majestic collection of adult beverages. I began with cheap beer before discovering my life partner behind the other bottles. In the course of four hours, I almost ingested an entire bottle of Jack's Sour Mash, along with my first-ever college cup of Cristal to complete the .23 BAC evening.

That's pretty much all I remember, as there were large parts of the party and post-party that I still can't recollect…like the long ride home. Mrs. Bootleg says I slept the whole way, before waking up to give Kid Cameron's babysitter a long, fermented hug while reeking of grain alcohol and gratitude.

The next 24 hours were spent amidst the continuous nausea of "can't quite purge purgatory", where I carried all of the symptoms of your classic hangover, but with none of the Goodness of regurgitation. Is it possible to not throw up and still feel like sh*t?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Crips n' Bloods Meet Fish n' Chips

My Friday Music News Bootleg column ran for three years. During that time, I can say that my single greatest regret was not discovering the comedic gold mine of Heather Mills McCartney sooner.

Since my column ended, Heather and Sir Paul have split up and, in the absence of a prenuptial agreement, the one-legged ex-wife stands (giggle) to reap quite the windfall. That is, if she lives long enough.

Dateline: Liverpool, England…Various British media reports are claiming that "violent criminals" from Paul McCartney's hometown have threatened Heather Mills with physical harm for Mills' claims that she was physically abused during her four-year marriage to Paul.

Who knew that Paul McCartney had a posse, too?

And, how does a criminal in England earn the adjective of "violent" when handguns are banned throughout the land? Gangs without guns? Are there really Sharks and Jets still roaming the earth? And, if so, who do we root for?

I mean The Jets tried to gang rape a young Rita Moreno. Meanwhile, the Sharks allowed their own outfit to be infiltrated by faux Puerto Rican, Natalie Wood.

So, to summarize…Jets = insidious, Sharks = idiots.

Still though…in a gang war?

Make mine minority!

Petty Theft Auto

Winter has extended her wife-like frigid vise grip on San Diego.

Believe it or not, it's not always 72 and sunny here. In fact, last night it dipped down to 28 degrees in our neck of the woods. Of course, as I type this, it's sunny…and 72 degrees, but sooner or later, that sun will go back down.

This morning, I left for work only to find frost where my windshield once was. I started my car to "warm up" the engine (I saw it done in a movie once) and reached in the back seat for my rarely-used ice scraper…

"Hey, the back seat of my car looks a little more ransacked than usual…", I thought to myself.

Upon further inspection, it looked like one of those fictional cinematic motel rooms after the bad guys had tore it up "looking for the microfilm" or whatever passed for covert containers of espionage information in the '70s or '80s.

Upon further inspection, it was readily evident that I'd just been a victim of a vehicular break-in.

Now, I was running late for work, so the flood of emotions at that moment were too numerous for me to recount and recap, but I know that the first thing I thought of were my CDs…

Sho' nuff, some of my favorite discs from the last few years were gone, including Little Brother, Ghostface Killah and Lupe Fiasco.

Apparently, we can cross my mother off the list of suspects.

Oddly enough, the only other things that appear to have been taken were a couple of old music magazines that I'd been meaning to throw away, anyway, so I guess I should say "thanks" to whichever felon (or felons) accosted my Acura. I hope they recycle.

On my lunch hour, I had a better chance to look around and inventory anything else that might be missing. As I pulled loosely strewn papers from the seats and floor, I found that some of the old restaurant flyers and Mapquest directions were, well…"wetter" than some others.

Please tell me these people didn't pee in my car.

I actually uttered that aloud. And, just before I was about to utter the R-rated version of the exact same sentiment, the unmistakable stank of stale beer overwhelmed my olfactory system.

So, in addition to breaking-and-entering and petty theft, someone poured beer all over my backseat. And, I know what you're thinking, but believe me…at least 80% of my beer is spilled in the front seat.

And, the best thing about all of this? Apparently, there wasn't any forced entry. Best I can tell, I forgot to lock the door and Cryme Tyme just let themselves into the confines of my four-door smorgasbord.

It's times like these that make me wish there was such a thing as a Black Republican, because I'd flip the switch on the electric chair, myself for this misdemeanor. Unfortunately, as a registered Democrat, I have to sit here in fear, while concurrently hoping we coddle these criminals right past prison and on to probation.

This wouldn't have happened in Al Gore's America.

I'm just sayin'.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Does That Stocking Say "Mammy"?

The following piece originally ran as a "Life with the Bootleg Family" segment in my December 17, 2004 column. To say it was one of the more well-received pieces I've ever written would be something of an understatement. Tis the season...

Last Thursday night was not one of The Bootleg's better evenings. And, this time, I don't mean "Bootleg" as a code word from "Cameron Family".

Writer's Block had bludgeoned my brain into bacon fat…and not the warm, drippy kind, but the cold, congealed kind. As Thursday turned to Friday, I was staring at 75% of a column and an increasingly agitated wife who wanted me to come downstairs and view all of the stockings she had hung with great care.

Mrs. Bootleg bought our stockings over the internet from the good people at Pottery Barn. In what should have been a sign of things to come, the first stocking was to say "Jalen's 1st Christmas". Instead, it took three attempts to get them to add the "apostrophes".

The wife ordered ours next and asked that they read "Mommy" and "Daddy". And, yes, I've already asked Mall Santa to bring me back my balls for Christmas.

At a little after midnight, I took the thirteen-step trudge downstairs to bask in the wool-blend brightness of our unstuffed stockings. Mrs. Bootleg, beaming with pride, took several steps back to admire the Kris Kringlesque craftsmanship. For a moment, I was embiggened with pride, as this would be our first holiday together as parents and…

Does that stocking say "MAMMY"?

I took a closer look, since cursive can be confusing (Billy Madison still can't spell "Rizzuto", y'know) and, sure enough, my initial concern had been confirmed. With one wrong letter, The Pottery Barn turned b(l)ack the clock to Hattie McDaniel, Buckwheat and bottles of thick, rich maple syrup.

And, then the laughter started.

I'm not sure if this is one of those nebulous "Black things", but this was quite possibly the funniest thing I've ever seen. I laughed when the wife was typing up an email at 1:00 AM to explain the mistake. I laughed when Pottery Barn acknowledged it was their error, but told us that "A's and O's kind of look alike".

I laughed when my wife was told that they were completely sold out of all makes, models and styles of stockings for the year. I laughed, minutes later, when we agreed to leave it up.

Now, I don't know many mammies with a Master's Degree (although, I'm told Mrs. Cicely Buttersworth is half way to a PhD). But for this, our first Christmas as a family, we'll feast our eyes on this racially insensitive item of festiveness, secure in the knowledge…that we shall overcome.

"The Diss That Don't Miss"

This, um, music video from our friends at YouTube combines three of my favorite things:

1.) A catchphrase that never caught on ("Man, that's 2 Cold!")

2.) A dance that even I could do.

3.) The obligatory soulful and voluptuous Black woman (wasn't she in Borat?) on the hook.

And, be sure you don't miss: The look on the white kid's face when he's about to be (chuckle) "dunked on"...the "we gon' step" line...the early '90s video staple of some color/some black and white (thanks, Color Me Badd)... and, of course, pro wrestling.

I guess you can take the boy out of Inside Pulse, etc...

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Blonde Ambition, Biiatch

I think it's safe to say that I'm the only African-American in his early 30s who still reads XXL Magazine. For those of you who don't know, XXL is basically the rap Rolling Stone except it's printed on real paper, instead of old Circuit City Sunday ads.

In the latest issue, there's an interview with pop singer Brooke Hogan, the daughter of ancient fake wrester Hulk Hogan, and it might be the single funniest read in the history of sh*tty literature.

"Now, it's illegal to televise court proceedings cut n' paste published material in this state, so we'll have to be quiet."

XXL: You have the distinction of having a dad who's mentioned in rap lyrics.
Brooke: Really? Was it a Ludacris song or something?

XXL: No. The Roots' "Lesson Pt. 1"…Your thoughts?
Brooke: It's awesome. I think Ludacris said something like, "Hogan knows best". It's very flattering that the hip-hop community is a fan of my father and uses his name in lyrics. It's really cool!

XXL: What do they see in him?
Brooke: I think they see an icon and the legend they looked up to when they were little. It doesn't matter if you're in the urban community or not…everybody loves Hulk Hogan. I think, like, he's their mentor.

XXL: Plus, rappers bow down to a white guy who can kick their ass.
Brooke: Yeah.

XXL: Is Pops into rap?
Brooke: He is. His ringtone's "Big Poppa". He really knows his stuff. He knows the words to Game's new single.

XXL: What's the first rap record you bought?
Brooke: Stevie Wonder's Greatest Hits.

XXL: That's not hip-hop.
Brooke: I listen to old school stuff.

XXL: Cool, but he's not hip-hop.
Brooke: But, he's urban, and I look up to the old classical, original stuff.

XXL: Who do you like now?
Brooke: I am a big Ludacris fan. I'm blanking on names. Oh! 50 Cent. (Sings) "If you were my best friend…" But, I'm mostly a Ludacris fan.

XXL: Any plans to rap?
Brooke: I'm gonna stick to singing. I think if I went into rapping, it would kind of insult people. Like I said, I'm so into the urban thing. I know I'm white and that I can't rap, but I do know that I can sing in an urban style.

Wow. Seriously, I would've posted this sooner, but Mathan Erhardt's head exploded when he read this and we've been scrubbing skull n' brain matter off the walls for weeks.

Now, I'm not sure what my favorite part of this interview is. Brooke's obvious oblivious blonde act makes me wonder what happens to these women when they reach 100. I mean, we all know what they look like at 90…but, still.

Then, there's the use of the word "urban". Is it officially the new "n-word" or is it just the newest Black adjective, like "ghetto", "angry" or "absentee"?

Obviously, XXL's intent was to make Brooke look as bad as possible (she's pictured wearing some of those platinum dentures favored by those sonically illiterate down South rappers). But, XXL just supplied the shovel…Brooke did the digging.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Welcome Back to The Bootleg.

Hello! I'm Aaron Cameron. You might remember me from such conceptual car wrecks as The Friday Music News Bootleg, which blended weekly music news with personal anecdotes, obscure pop culture references and Lil' Kim jokes.

My previous web employers included, and, most recently, But, after more than four years of sharing screen time with pro wrestling writers and faux celebrity reality "stars", ol' Aaron is venturing out on his own.

I have NO idea what this blog is going to turn into or even how long it'll last. But, if you liked The Bootleg or any of my previously published stuff, you'll like this. And, you newbies should stick around, too. You might not get all the jokes, but you can tell your friends that you now know a real live Black guy.

The Goodness is back.