Bash the pen from this brother's hand

My wife job puts her in contact with book publishers, giving her access to free books. She is not a sports fan, so when the buzz began for Jose Canseco’s book, Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big, she asked me some questions about Canseco’s career. In return, I got a free copy. It was laying around the house for a couple of weeks until I read it on a flight this weekend.

I’m glad I got it free.

Unlike most books written by sports figures, there is no co-writer. From the level of writing, I doubt there is a ghost writer involved either (my wife insists there was a ghost writer; if there was he or she should be banned from writing anything longer than a laundry list). The publisher, Regan Books, should be ashamed that they didn’t assign one to this project. Between Canseco’s interesting career and his willingness to tell tales out of school about fellow baseball players, there is a lot of raw material in the book that would make a good book if there was a writer with some talent involved in putting it together. The book is being sold on the steroids angle, but he has some interesting stories about life on the road and umpires that, if they weren’t ghettoed in their own respective chapters and fleshed out further, would have added to the enjoyment of the book.

I can sum up the main themes of the book and save you the $18:

  • Steroids are a good thing, when used properly. And Jose knows how to use them properly.
  • Jose isn’t as bad of a person that he is made out to be.
  • Latino players get less slack than comparative white players by the media.

The last subject runs through the book almost as much as his love for steroids and human growth hormone. It is one of the reasons I think he wrote the book, to have his career shaped on his terms and not through what he considers a biased media. He is very bitter about his treatment by the media in comparison to other players like Mark McGwire and Cal Ripken Jr.; players he referred to as ‘untouchables’.

The book’s release is being used by the media to turn up the heat on Major League Baseball and its player regarding steroid use, so it is good that it is out. This does remind of Dennis Miller’s comments when 2 Live Crew albums were being banned in Florida in the later ‘80s. He said censorship should always be fought against, but he is disappointed artists are forced to go to the wall for songs like ‘Me So Horny’.

I feel the same way about this book.


That is going to be a fun Hall of Fame speech

Barry Bonds had a press conference where he basically flipped the assembled media the finger Tuesday. Words like combative, defiant and angry have been used to describe the tone of his comments. Throw the steroid and BALCO controversies in the mix, and I’m surprised Bonds didn’t bring a flamethrower to the meeting. Most people assume this is just Barry being Barry; that he never had much use for the media in general.

I just think Barry Bonds doesn’t care for white people much.

Oh, I’m sure he has white friends (Greg Anderson, AKA Mr. Flaxseed oil, comes to mind). And he has proven bedding down with a shapely white woman is not beneath him. But the average, run of the mill white person? Not so excited about. Unfortunately for Barry, he has chosen a profession where he is surrounded by average, run of the mill white people. And they want autographs and pictures. And to ask him personal questions in the locker room and at press conferences.

Where was Bonds’ opinion of white people formed? Look no further than his father (the late Bobby Bonds, major league player), his godfather (Willie Mays, considered the best living baseball player) and the man who holds the home run record Bonds is currently chasing (Henry Aaron). I have not a stitch of proof, but I believe Bonds saw his father and godfather treated poorly by the media during and after their playing careers as he grew up. He probably heard them bitterly talk about it around the dinner table. In private. In the bitter tones that come from having to smile and be the bigger man in public.

Hank Aaron may be the best person to use an example of where Bonds attitude may come from. Aaron caught hell for having the audacity to break Babe Ruth’s all time home run record. Not ‘did you take steroids’ hell. More like ‘if you play today, I’ll shoot that nigger head of your shoulders’ hell. Aaron had to just take it. And he is still mad. He can’t come out and say it (he is getting a nice salary from the Atlanta Braves to not complain about not having anything to do), but he is more bitter than skunky beer left outside in the summer. Trust me; shoot some truth serum into Aaron and he will make Paul Mooney sound like Wayne Brady.

Bonds knows this and truly respects Aaron for what he had to go through as much as his baseball accomplishments. One topic you can get Bonds to talk about is Aaron. He has suggested it is more important to him to pass Babe Ruth than it is to pass Hank Aaron, using the weak argument that both he and Ruth are left handed hitters. As opposed to the glee he will feel besting the great white hope of home runs.

The cold war between Bonds and the media will continue until far after he ends his baseball career, with both sides entrenched in their respective positions. The one good thing for Bonds to think about is the last all time great to have this contentious relationship with the media was Ted Williams. Not a bad person to be compared to if you are a baseball player. And the good news for the media is, with Bonds’ age and failing knees, they won’t have to deal with him much longer.



I got my last Christmas present Friday. It is an Odyssey White Hot 2-ball putter. My brother got it for me before he went back overseas.

I didn’t need another putter, but Mike was going to buy me a new golf bag. Thanks to Ebay, I didn’t need one, and I suggested the putter. By suggested I mean I told him the exact model and size of putter to buy when he went into the golf store, as the only think Mike knows about golf is he doesn’t play.

How did I, a black boy from Brooklyn, become a golfer? Blame the following:

MATT: My friend and father of my godchild. Part of the bachelor proceedings was the ‘Dead Man’s Open’ a golf outing with friends. As a member of his wedding party, I was invited. It was my first time on a golf course as a participant. He also sold me his old clubs when he bought new ones. He doesn’t seem too guilty about introducing me to the game; he laughs at me when I tell him I’m sucked in and it is his fault.

(By the way, it is also his fault that I am not a better golfer than I am now. His wife and I were supposed to learn to play at the same time, but he had to go out and get her pregnant. By the time she recovered from the wrath of Cameron, I had moved from Jersey to Maryland. I hope you are happy, Matt.)

USA NETWORK: After I graduated from college and before I started work at CBS, I took a freelance job with USA Network. I worked in the production truck during the 1995 Ryder Cup, a bi-annual competition between the top American and European golfers. It was my first time on a golf course of any type. As a general sports fan, I knew a little about golf, but I wasn’t a fan. Working the event was my introduction to golf in general. Now, the Ryder Cup may be my most favorite sporting event of them all.

MY RIGHT KNEE: Before golf, my two favorite sports to participate in were bowling and basketball. Unfortunately, my right knee does not much care for running and jumping, especially on blacktop or concrete. One spirited game of full court leads to 10 days of limping around. I needed another sport to channel my competitive juices towards and I couldn’t find a bowling league that fit my work schedule.

There are other reasons that I got involved in golf. A chance to look preppy in golf clothes, a reason to get out of the house, seeing Tiger Woods’ succeed. Whatever the reason, now I am locked in. Just in 2005 I have purchased new Ping irons, a bunch of used Titleist NXT balls (you can be a cheap golfer if you try), and three new shirts (thanks Ebay). I’ll be going out to Arizona for a long weekend with the Mrs. and try all my new gear out.

I’ll probably stink, but with my latest Christmas present, I’ll look good stinking.


Man hating for a price

Phil McGraw, better known as Dr. Phil, had a prime time special last Tuesday. Because my wife is a fan, we recorded the program and watched it last night. The show was nothing more than a night time version of his syndicated show, focusing on relationships. He talked to Jonathan and Victoria from the latest season of The Amazing Race (quite possibly the most distasteful game show/reality show participants ever, right up there with Beth from the Real World: Los Angeles), gave dating advice to a successful woman who is searching for Mr. Right, and counseled an engaged couple, Corey and Mary, who are having doubts about going through with the marriage.

The couple in question had issues. She had banished him to the basement because she felt he was invading her space. He had come up with a sexual contract to make sure the amount of nookie didn’t decrease after the marriage. While watching the introduction, I decided there is no way they should get married, since they were both insane.

So Dr. Phil goes into his shtick, which is supposed to be no nonsense common sense. He pulls Corey aside and, with good reason, derides his idea of a sexual contract. Phil also critiqued how Corey proposed to Mary (in the front yard, while mowing the lawn). Not a four star Dr. Phil reaming, but a strong rebuke to the way he interacts with his fiancée.

Then, it was Mary’s turn. And it happened. Or I should say, it didn’t happen. Phil doesn’t give Mary his patented ‘marriage is not 50%-50%; it is 100%-100%’ speech. He doesn’t give her the ‘what were you thinking!?!’ regarding her throwing him out of the bedroom and into the basement. He gently says she should not stand for anything less then exemplary treatment. I nearly spit out the snack I was eating. Once again, Phil bashes the man and treats the woman with kid gloves.

I may have seen one episode of Oprah when Dr. Phil was a regular. But, from what I have been told, he became a hit by giving people the unvarnished, straight answers to their questions. He got his own show, and did basically the same thing. At some point during the first season (yes, I was watching), some one got to him and told him he had to hammer the men more because women were his audience. And he listened.

Now, I’m not one to knock the hustle Dr. Phil has going. Yes, he is as safe as kindergarten scissors. Yes, most of what he says is common sense. Unfortunately, there are some stupid people in this world that do not have enough common sense to come out of the rain. They need Dr. Phil to tell them it isn’t a good idea to cheat on their spouses, or eat their way to a visit from Richard Simmons, or drop out of school to begin a career dancing on the pole. And the rest of us need Dr. Phil and his rotating freak show guest list to feel superior to. Everybody wins.

I’m funny in how I deal with entertainment. My suspension of disbelief threshold is pretty low. I know the teary eyed teen begging her mother to put down the booze and be a parent on the WB drama went right to her trailer after the scene was over. I just ask performers to try to hide the fact they are after my time or money. Don’t make it obvious. And Dr. Phil is making the nuts and bolts of his show obvious to me.


He's rich; biatch!

I’m worried about Dave Chappelle.

Okay, I’m not worried about his ability to feed his family, with the $50 million deal he signed with Viacom to continue Chappelle’s Show on Comedy Central. That should keep him in high grade weed for a long as he lives (as long as he keeps away from Wayne Brady and his Sherman Hemsley). I am worried that Chappelle’s has peaked as an artist.

First of all, with all his current success, I don’t think Chappelle is an all time great comedian. He, in my opinion, pales in comparison with Sam Kinison (for generating humor out of shocking material), and Chris Rock (for generating comedy from the black experience) for example. I won’t even mention Richard Pryor, who will be the funniest man in the world a year after he dies.

Second of all (and I hope I’m wrong), I don’t know if Chappelle can be as funny as he has been now that he has ‘made it’ financially. Can and will Chappelle keep his nose to the grindstone and put out top flight, original comedy, even though he can take his ball and go home? Chris Rock has been forced to dig deep and bring the funny every time out because, with all his critical achievements, he never truly ‘made it’. I love Chris Rock’s comedy, and he couldn’t get me to see Head of State or Down To Earth. He may be rich, but he doesn’t have f^%k you money. Chappelle has f^%k you money. Eddie Murphy has f^%k you money, and he has become Mr. Safe Family Comedy. It is hard to rage against the machine under 350 count sheets.

Most importantly, Chappelle seems to curse what the success of his show has brought him; more notoriety. I saw him in concert after his first comedy special (Killin’ Them Softly) struggle with a drunken fan, throwing out lines from the special. The guy wasn’t maliciously heckling; he loved the performance so much he couldn’t help himself. One of the main themes of his latest comedy special, Dave Chappelle: For What It’s Worth (which seemed rudderless and rushed on a whole), was how his show made him so famous he couldn’t interact honestly with the public, making it harder for him to entertain and mine for further material. He touched on that problem again at the MTV Music Video awards, apologizing to rapper/producer Lil’ Jon for ruining Jon’s life (Chappelle did a number of skits, impersonating Lil’ Jon, single handedly increasing Jon’s Q rating).

I’m convinced none of the public figures Chappelle lovingly impersonated* (Lil’ Jon, Prince, the late Rick James) minded the attention. Rick James was so offended, he did a tricky double reverse at the 2004 BET Awards; impersonating Chappelle impersonating himself with the now famous ‘I’m Rick James, bitch’ line. The only person struggling with higher notoriety is Chappelle himself.

I hope I’m wrong. The third season of Chappelle’s Show (along with the release of the second season on DVD) was scheduled to begin around this time. According to Comedy Central, the premiere was pushed back to May because of an illness to Chappelle that postponed production. Hopefully, the extra time will be used by Chappelle to recharge his batteries, figure out how to deal with the fame and come out stronger then ever. I’m not betting $50 million on it though.

* This does not include R. Kelly. I’m surprised the Awrra can leave the house after the ‘Piss On You’ and ‘Piss On You (remix)’ videos Chappelle put out.


Avoiding O-Dog and Doughboy

I got the idea to write this post from reading Tomato Nation. Sars is an actual writer. You should go there.

A couple of years ago, the fellas came down from Jersey to visit me in Maryland. I don’t remember if there was a specific event they came down for, besides the fact that I live here now. A couple of the guys are Steeler fans, and they like to come down to Baltimore for the Steelers/Ravens game and soak up the atmosphere at the ESPN Zone at the Inner Harbor, but that wasn’t this trip. Another one of my friends fell in love with the Friday night atmosphere of Jaspers in Greenbelt, MD. But I digress.

Two of the fellas showed up later than the rest (who set up in a hotel) and wanted to hit a strip joint. The only spot I was aware of at the time was the Penthouse on Georgia Ave in Northeast DC. I wasn’t too excited about going. Number one, I’m not as excited about hitting the go-go spots as some of my friends, although if the group decides to go you don’t have to drag me to one. The Doll House in Irvington NJ did take some of my money in the late ‘90s. More importantly, the Penthouse was in the ‘hood. And it wasn’t my ‘hood.

Let me explain. I grew up in Vandeveer Estates in Flatbush, Brooklyn. While Flatbush isn’t as bad an area as say, Brownsville or Bed-Stuy, Vandeveer was (and probably still is) the ‘hood. During my tenure there, I knew where to go and where not to go in order to stay relatively safe. I didn’t become an adult until I left (and I’m not going back, thank you), but I imagine I would know where I could get a drink in the area without undue danger.

The fellas I run with come from Essex County, New Jersey. The towns we used to hang in when I’d go down there (Irvington, Vauxhall, East Orange) weren’t ‘hood like parts of Newark are, but you could get caught out there if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time (one time we saw someone get hit over the head with a champagne bottle, then stomped down until he was under a parked car). But they lived there and knew where to go. I never felt it any danger running with them, to the point I could come down on my own and meet up with them, no sweat.

I guess I should mention crew I run with averages 6’1” and 230lbs. And one of us is a cop. That may have something to do with feeling safe waiting for your beep patty at Jessup’s at 2:30 in the morning.

I had no idea about Northeast DC, except that I drove through it to get to and from work. I didn’t know if I parked my car on Georgia, would I have windows or a radio when I came back. I didn’t know if side streets off Georgia (a major thoroughfare) were especially dangerous. I haven’t lived, and I have rarely frequented anywhere that could be considered a ‘hood since I moved to Maryland in early 2001. And I have no desire to pick that back up. The funniest thing my brother ever said to me is we don’t keep it real; we keep it gated, as in gated community.

The ‘hood had 18 years to get me; I’m not giving it bonus shots.

We did end up going to the Penthouse, once my friend agreed we could use his (rented) car. Had an okay time. Got home safe. I couldn’t recommend that establishment for your naked dancer needs, but I’m probably not the person to go to for that.



Jason Giambi held a press conference yesterday, where he never specifically mentioned he took steroids (which he reportedly admitted during federal grand duty testimony, leaked to the San Francisco Cronicle), but he inferred he did something wrong which he regretted. When asked specifically about steroids, he refused to give specifics due to legal matters. Giambi is getting hammered in the press today, which is an example of the following rule:

When the press doesn’t get exactly what they want, they get pissy.

Never mind that it is against federal law to leak the grand jury testimony Giambi offered, even by Giambi. Never mind the Yankees investigated voiding the last 4 years and +$80 million of Giambi’s contract, but couldn’t because there isn’t any tangible proof Giambi did anything wrong. Never mind that; the press wanted their pound of flesh, and when they didn’t get exactly what they wanted, they lashed out.

This isn’t about steroids. It is about arrogance. Listen to Jay Mariotti on Around The Horn sometimes. If you took a shot of Jagermeister every time he said ‘(sports figure) needs to prove to me…’, you would be dead of alcohol poisoning by the time Pardon The Interruption came on. When I watch (and I don’t watch the show much these days) and he says that, I scream at the television screen ‘No they don’t! Who the hell are you?’

When I was in high school, I loved to read Mike Lupica’s column in the Daily News. As I got older, I soured on his sports=morality play aspect of his writing. By the way, he moved from the News to the short lived National, to Newsday and back to the Daily News. Remember that the next time he complains about an athlete moving from one team to another for money. And I dare you to get through one of his heavy handed, clichĂ© filled fictional novels. House painters don’t use strokes as heavy as Lupica does on character development.

Not all sports columnists are arrogant pricks. But enough of them are to annoy me.


Blackpot = Black + Crackpot

Welcome to Blackpot. I'm the Blackpot, also known as TwoNuse over at the Fametracker forums.

I wanted to have a place to spew my opinions on whatever is going through my mind. Plus, I'd like a place to write. I'm not a writer. I shouldn't even use the word writer in a sentence. Hopefully, practice makes me better.

What would be some of the topics I touch on? Sports? Yep. Race? Uh huh. Popular culture? Sure. Hardcore politics? Most likely not. Bollywood movies? Nope. I don't fully know where this will end up.

Thanks for stopping by. Hopefully you'll be back. Hell, hopefully, I'll be back.

Forget about keeping it real, you better start keeping it right

I had a long IM conversation with a former co-worker that turned into a phone conversation. She and her husband have a foster child, whom they most likely will adopt when the state allows her to. She and her husband are white and the child is black. Among the concerns she mentioned to me was the fear that, because she would raise her adopted child just like she would raise a biological child (private school in a predominately white neighborhood, hockey as an activity, etc.) the child wouldn’t be able to relate to other black people.

This hit a chord for me, because I was that kid that was considered ‘acting white’ by other black kids in the neighborhood, because I was relatively successful in school and spoke proper English (thanks Mom and Dad). I didn’t think much of it as I was growing up; I knew I wasn’t like other kids my age growing up in Flatbush and chalked it up as such. By the time I got to high school, I was around enough people like me that I didn’t have to worry about that too much. Now that I am a grown man; the idea that black children, especially young black boys, are bent by peer pressure to achieve less and act up more pisses me off.

In my opinion, one of the largest problems in the African-American community is the lack of self esteem in our children where a sporting event or the curvature of one’s ass isn’t a factor. Not enough of our children are told they can do anything, so they don’t do anything. And when a child is instilled with self esteem and attempts to achieve, he or she is dragged down like crabs in a barrel by ‘peers’ either ignorant of how to properly act in society or scared that their anti-social behavior would not be seen as ‘keeping it real’. Do you know who is ‘keeping it real’? Wayne Brady. I have no doubt in my mind the Wayne Brady you see on television is the same Wayne Brady you would see at home. That is ‘keeping it real’, being true to yourself and not putting on airs to fit in to a cookie cutter image of what being black is.

I’m not saying all black people should have Carlton Banks (another nickname I caught) posters on their wall. I have enough Jay-Z CDs and Def Comedy Jam DVDs to appreciate urban culture (by the way, the fact that Eddie Murphy: Delirious isn’t on DVD is a national tragedy). But there has to be the understanding the way you interact with your boys at the club isn’t the same way you interact at a PTA meeting.

I apologize for going all Bill Cosby on you. I promise no women were drugged and fondled in the writing of this post.