4/29/15

*NSFW* When It Needs To Be Said: The Declaration of Erika Kendall

NOTE: The views or opinions presented in the embed of this post are those of the author. In respect of such communication, any commentary regarding her work should be directed accordingly.

Ms. Erika Kendall is a friend of my high school colleague, Genie Lauren. You may remember Ms. Lauren from a few years back, when she successfully orchestrated a social media campaign to stop the publishing deal being negotiated for Juror B37 in the trial of George Zimmerman; for more on that, Click Here. With this being said, I think that Ms. Kendall has provided a raw, honest, and well-written diatribe addressing the issues surrounding the events concerning Baltimore and the death of Freddie Gray. Please note that the language in this piece may offend some readers, so if that isn't your cup of tea, feel free to close out this window. But if you want to see where many people stand on this topics right now, take a few moments to check this out.

You called the hood “sketchy” and made sure you rolled up your windows and locked your doors when you absolutely HAD to drive through it. You even created and make copious use of apps that HELP YOU AVOID THE “SKETCHY” NEIGHBORHOODS.

Now, when you see people destroying it, you want to talk that good sh-t about “savage” behavior, “destroying property,” “earned disrespect,” “delinquency,” “why should a criminal get justice?” and “black unemployment.”

And, of course, all this and you want your cookies for not being racist, all because you didn’t say “n-gger.” You want us to throw a celebration for your petulant ass for not hanging a human being from the poplar tree in your front yard.

Okay, I’ve got your cookies. I’ve got your little party, too.

Congratulations for finding a thousand different ways to say “n-gger.”
Congratulations for, instead of spittin’ that dog whistle nonsense about “lazy black people,” you now want to crow on about how all the burned businesses only add to “black unemployment,” while some cornball friend of yours snarks about how that’s “probably what they wanted.” Neither one of you realized that the hood doesn’t own those businesses, rarely ever is employed BY those businesses, and when they are…they’re paid literal pennies on the dollar of what they’re worth. None of you read that the unemployment rate for that particular part of Baltimore is hovering around 25%. But you’re worried about businesses there NOW.

Besides — it’s not “n-gger” anymore – it’s “thug.”

Congratulations for, instead of repeating that petty ridiculousness about “makers” and “takers,” you’re now focused on “looting.” The “looters.” The “looters.” The “looters.” Guess what? That population is so economically depressed – no jobs, no banks to help them get loans so they can create their OWN economic opportunity, no ability to actually build the generational wealth necessary to pass money down to their kids so THEY can create their own economic opportunity – that they feel like they have next to nothing. Why are you surprised that people with nothing to lose will take what someone else has…ESPECIALLY when they value those THINGS more than they value human life?

You expect people who have purposefully had their property stripped from them through eminent domain, through corruption of federal policy, through manipulation, through burning down entire avenue blocks full of their businesses….after you’ve taken everything from them, you expect them give a damn about what YOU have? You’ve already taught them these things mean nothing and can be stolen at the drop of a hat – including their lives.

Congratulations for not hanging any black people anymore. Except, oh wait, you are. Not only are black Americans still being hung in the US, but you’ve evooooolved! You’ve found new and creative ways to punish and penalize and torture black and brown people OUTSIDE THE CONFINES OF OUR LEGAL SYSTEM. So, instead of that whole trial, jury, hire lawyer, innocent until proven guilty thing we’ve created to protect the individual livelihoods and freedoms of our great nation, we’re OKAAAAAAYYYY with *certain* people being murdered extrajudicially because they “shouldn’t have been breaking the law.” Except, what’s the deal with that criminal scumbag police officer who lied and claimed HIS victim stole his taser and therefore earned the death sentence HE received… and we would’ve believed that, too, if it weren’t for someone determined to ensure that the truth was heard.

Somehow, the Oklahoma bomber, the Boston bomber, the Colorado theater shooter, and countless other criminals manage to be taken alive… but a man standing on the street allegedly carrying a knife is grounds for brutal treatment. A man who takes off running for reasons unknown is justification for a criminal scumbag officer to square up and shoot him to death.

Congratulations for helping us understand how to be upstanding citizens of the US, and teaching us – in true passive-aggressively paternalistic form – the proper terms under which it is acceptable to devalue private property. So, let me make sure I have this right – it’s okay to destroy public property when a university is finally held accountable for giving a pedophile carte blanche to abuse minors with impunity… it’s okay to destroy private property when my favorite hockey team wins their game… it’s okay to destroy private property when my favorite hockey team LOSES their game… it’s okay to burn some shit down when Pumpkinfest runs out of pumpkins… and it’s okay to destroy some shit when there’s an important sale going on.

It is NOT okay, however, to destroy some shit when you’re rallying against the fact that people are consistently denied access to the justice system because cops are acting like judge, jury, and executioner by shooting people just because they have black skin. I got it, yeah?

Congratulations for not saying “n-gger,” and for not being photographed eating any ice cream cones at any lynchings in the US. I’m proud of you! That’s big progress!

Here’s your cookie. And a book. Focus more on the book part, though – maybe that’ll teach some of you some damn empathy for perpetually and purposefully disenfranchised people. Maybe you’ll give a damn about them before they have to burn a tenth of your city down to get media attention. Maybe you’ll learn that they, too, are human, and deserve access to all the same rights as the rest of us, no matter how much money they have.

3/11/15

The Crucible of Nona Gaye: How Corporate Music Just Destroyed Copyright Law

3 comments

Form The Guardian:
"A jury awarded Marvin Gaye’s children nearly $7.4m on Tuesday after determining singers Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams copied their father’s music to create Blurred Lines, the biggest hit song of 2013. Marvin Gaye’s daughter Nona Gaye wept as the verdict was being read and was hugged by her attorney, Richard Busch. “Right now, I feel free,” Nona Gaye said after the verdict. “Free from ... Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke’s chains and what they tried to keep on us and the lies that were told.”"

I'll tell you what: if I was a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, I would rally support for Nona Gaye and Richard Busch to win the award for Best Documentary: Short Subject. The acting and dramatics surrounding this three-ringed circus of legal proceedings deserve a standing ovation, at the very least. However, if I was a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, I would rally support to file charges against Nona and her family for fraud and circumvention of long-standing statues that protect the rights of creators in the American Music Industry. Were I vindictive enough, I'd probably also hire a P.I. to see just how much money & influence this woman, and by that extension, all of the Gaye family, have invested into this fight for artistic "justice." I'd guarantee that it wouldn't take too long to realize just how much of a sham this entire process has been. What we'll never know is what the long-term negative effects will be as a result of that sham. That said, I'll expand upon what I do know, and what I think about it.

First, if you want a more comprehensive understanding of the whole story & court proceedings behind it, Click Here.

I suppose I have to preface my thoughts by saying first that like so many artists and creatives, I have the utmost respect and admiration for the music & legacy of Marvin Gaye. He was an incomparable musician and performer. In addition, his dedication later in his life to creating art that talked about issues like social justice, discrimination, and the plight of his people solidifies his place in history as someone who, in my opinion, represents the true essence of an artist. This is why I take such issue with these recent proceedings, and why I have a serious ethical problem with the machinations of Nona Gaye and the rest of her vengeful brood.

By allowing the Gaye family to profit from the success of a current Pop music collaboration, simply because the song they created SOUNDS like the groove of a Marvin Gaye record, without there being conclusive evidence to indicate the individuals involved actually plagiarized direct lyrics, melodic lines, or audio samples from “Got To Give It Up,” the courts have now set a very real precedent, with financial incentive, to not only hear ridiculous cases like this, but to rule them in favor of the plaintiff. This would, in effect, strip a newer writer, performer, or producer, from allowing prior musical influence to be a part of a creative venture, unless they were willing to seek out any & all possible sonic references and negotiate a deal with their originators - which is, by all standards and practices, impossible.

This pisses me off to no end because it proves what I’ve been saying for a long time now; namely, that the Capitalism behind this music industry is far more of a detriment to the concepts of art commerce than even the most magnanimous producer will admit. I am all for creative individuals being properly compensated for their work, it should go without saying. However, I am NOT a fan of artists’ families using the gifts of that artist to unfairly profit from their work. The same can be said of the Jacksons. If we are to be blunt about Marvin’s life, by the end of it, he was little more than a strung-out, bipolar drug addict with a psychological propensity towards violence and a wavering grasp on reality. Further, it should not fall to people like Robin Thicke or Pharrell Williams to compensate for the fact that Nona, Frankie, and Marvin Jr. had a father who never negotiated the means for the residual profit from his work to be redirected to them, or that he never created a proper living will & trust for his estate. Why should the music industry be responsible for his problems, his mistakes, or his poor legal prowess? And that’s with the knowledge that said industry is certainly responsible for pulling some dirty, underhanded BS concerning him during his lifetime. For more on that, as well as some insight into his personal problems, Click Here.

I watched Nona Gaye’s reaction to the ruling, and I almost cringed. Crocodile tears and black sunglasses to hide her inner glee for pulling a fast one on this business. OUR business. Making it seem as if she had no money of her own, or was clueless as to how she could be a successful & happy woman outside of this kind of outrageous litigation. What she should be is ashamed at her and her family’s behavior for tainting the legacy of the music of a man whose message was about fighting the very things she chose to represent with these allegations. And I’m sure there are folks out there who will try to tie this “victory” into things like the “Black Lives Matter” movement (I wouldn’t be surprised if Nona did, too); for all our sakes, I hope that after this, she takes her checks and sits down somewhere. The irrevocable damage this case has wrought upon the future of the music industry is something we’ll all have to live with for the rest of our artistic lives, while she gets to laugh, sorry, cry tears of joy all the way to the bank.

Oh, and Nona, darling, in case you were looking for a place to sit down after you make your deposits, I've found several. "Here, My Dear:"