Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
September 25, 2007 - September 18, 2007

Monday, September 24, 2007

Advance Text of Bollinger's
Questions for Ahdumjihad

Why is this man smiling? Read on.

SPECIAL REPORT. Unnamed sources inside the Columbia administration have leaked the list of questions President Lee Bollinger will be asking the Iranian President during his controversial visit to the university this afternoon. The leak may be a deliberate ploy to blunt some of the severe criticism Bollinger has been receiving in the media. It's clear the questions are frank, direct, and unambiguous. See for yourselves if you think they will help restore Columbia's somewhat battered reputation.

Mr. President, you may have heard that there's been quite a kerfuffle about your visit here today, and the name Hitler keeps coming up in all the press coverage. Speaking as president of this great university, I can assure you we'd all be grateful if you could explain to us why and how George W. Bush came to be so much like Hitler that educated persons like ourselves can no longer tell the difference between them.

Moving on, Mr. President, there are embarrassingly large numbers of Jews in the Columbia student body and alumni ranks. Could you please explain to them how sick and tired the rest of us are of hearing them whine about the so-called holocaust in Europe 50 or 80 years ago or whenever it supposedly happened?

As you may know, Mr. President, Columbia University also has a considerable faculty and student population that specializes in the natural sciences. I'm sure they'd welcome it if you could summarize recent Iranian biological research -- which has, of course, been suppressed here in the Great Satan -- demonstrating the direct genetic link that exists between Jews and pigs.

Speaking of pigs, could you explain to us the redevelopment plans you have for Israel after it has been wiped off the map? I mean, how do you clean, disinfect, and sterilize an area as large as a whole country so that it doesn't, you know, reek permanently of smoked fish and pickels and the baby blood they use in all their filthy rituals? Would a technology that can accomplish such a cleanup have any application in our great global war against climate change?

On a more humanistic note, Mr. President, could you tell us all what it feels like -- to you personally -- when you read in the news that one of your state-of-the-art Iranian IEDs has killed and/or dismembered a bunch of U.S. imperialist occupiers of Iraq? The capitalist running dog media in this country usually censor the really juicy details, so maybe you could also give us some of the more gratifying inside specifics that only a great world leader like yourself has access to -- the blood and guts and gore and screaming and dying and all that....

Finally, Mr. President, I'm sure you know how committed we all are here to ending the century of oppression which has been perpetrated by the United States on the rest of the world. Please tell us what we can do -- each and every one of us -- to support you in your efforts to reduce this country to rubble in the shortest possible time.

Oh, and one more thing. Tell Columbia's student and alumni Jews what they can do...

Thank you, Mr. President. I know my questions have been challenging and sometimes unpleasant, but please believe me when I tell you how much we all admire you and hope for your success in every endeavor.

  Our sources tell us President Bollinger is also open to other questions, if anyone cares to submit them.


McNabb and Westbrook: Dressed to kill but joined at the hip.

BEDROCK. The world of NFL football was quite the comedy yesterday. Perhaps most amazingly, the day's events provided Keith Olbermann with an opportunity to be right about something. He declared -- in the pity assignment he's been given on NBC's Sunday Night Football broadcast -- that "the Worst Person in the NFL" this week is the man or woman who picked out yesterday's blue and yellow nightmare of a retro uniform for the Philadelphia Eagles. What can we say? He was absolutely correct, which ended a streak of 0-for-8 years or so. That's more than you can say about all the experts and pundits who opined about the Eagles and their fans before, during, and after their game with the Detroit Lions.

The wizards of Fox's weekly pre-game circus -- Terry, Howie, Jimmy, and, uh, Frank -- all picked Detroit to win the game, and Terry Bradshaw also threw in a lecture to Donovan McNabb advising him to shut up and play football or get ready to be benched.

Then came the blowout: 42 Eagle points in the first half, 56 in the game, 500+ yards of offense, 4 touchdown passes, zero interceptions, and 8 sacks by the Eagle defense.

Of course, this didn't much change the views of the experts and pundits. Bradshaw not only refused to eat crow; he repeated his lecture to McNabb in the post game recap, conceding only that McNabb had bought himself another week.

In the NBC Sunday night game between the Cowboys and the Bears (excuse me, the Vaqueros and the Osos in honor of the NFL's "Let's Pander to Hispanics" month), Al Michaels made multiple snide references to McNabb's PR troubles of the past week. In fact, his final words before signing off were addressed to McNabb, inviting him to look at Chicago during the next seven days to see what criticism of a quarterback really looks like.

Of course, all the frowning on McNabb didn't stop any of the parties involved from also slamming Philadelphia fans, who are repeatedly singled out as the most obnoxious and unforgiving in the NFL. The sportscasters don't see any contradiction. McNabb is a spoiled whiner, and Eagles fans are nevertheless ungrateful louts who wouldn't know a good deal if it hit them in the face. It's kind of like being able to piss on your cake and throw it up, too.

The print press is equally quick to stomp on Philadelphia. My favorite of today's post-game reportage is Tom Monkovic of The New York Times, who transforms McNabb's ill-timed HBO interview into an indictment of  both the team and the whole city. He builds on the foundation of this funny quote from The Onion to suggest that it's actually accurate reporting:

PHILADELPHIA — Frustrated with the Eagles’ last-second 16-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers last Sunday, and with quarterback Donovan McNabb’s failure to single-handedly score three touchdowns, prevent two of his teammates from muffing punts, or block any of Green Bay’s field goals, thousands of Philadelphia fans demanded that McNabb win an NFL championship for Philadelphia sometime within the next three weeks.

It's a great line. Thing is, Philadelphia fans would be the first to laugh and they'd laugh the hardest of anybody. Everybody else would somehow miss the joke because they're busy turning it into something else.

Consider the absurdities:

TV sportscasters were dissing Eagles fans for greeting McNabb with some boos among the cheers yesterday while they were broadcasting a Giants-Redskins game and a Bears-Cowboys game in which the home fans were booing their teams in the first and second quarters.

The fearless pundits and experts were criticizing McNabb for answering a direct question put to him a month ago, but they never mentioned the name of Michael Vick or the possible impacts his scandal might have had on black NFL players generally, let alone on black NFL quarterbacks. Not. One. Mention.

A New York Times reporter -- from New York, mind you -- had the nerve to look down on Philadelphia for being unfair to one if its star athletes???!!!

Phooey. None of these clowns understands anything about the City of Philadelphia and its relations with the Eagles and McNabb. They also don't understand much about McNabb, who is, despite any and all evidence to the contrary, beloved in Philadelphia. Why? Because he's such a perfect symbol of the city itself. I am so confident of this that I'll bet even McNabb's harshest critics would agree with me after reading this post.

Philadelphia is a complicated place. It's an incredibly long-running contradiction that feels deep pride in its history and a nagging inferiority complex (which it hates in itself) due to the proximity of New York and the superior self-promotional performance of Boston (and Virginia-cum-DC) in portraying themselves as the birthplace of the nation. If you did a nationwide survey, what percentage of Americans would correctly identify Philadelphia as the birthplace of the United States? 30 percent? 40 percent? 50 percent? It should be 100 percent. The poll results would never come close. It's a kind of Super Bowl they never get to win.

But in the truest sense of names, Philadelphia is the Eagles, and the Eagles are Philadelphia. At this deepest level, it's not even about winning and losing. It's a matter of being, pure and simple. The citizens, the fans, the team are truly one in this, with no sectarian divisions. The actuating principles are pride, the abiding need for respect, and family. But it's family in the broad, brawling, expansive sense, like an extended Italian family where there's bound to be lots of yelling and frightening outbursts and then hugs all around when the storm inevitably passes. The City of Philadelphia will never turn its back on this team, no matter what. The Eagles could go 0 and 16 for a decade, and the stands would still be full -- full of furious, booing, outraged cousins and aunts and grandfathers and sons and mothers demanding better.

I can already hear the fans of other cities bellowing in my ear about how their fidelity and their sense of identity with their teams are equally strong. I understand. But they're just wrong. The New England Patriots. Same thing. Not at all. I lived in Boston when they were the Boston Patriots and didn't even have a home. They played at Harvard Stadium, which was only full when a star like Namath was on hand. The Patriots have become a great football team, but they're just a football team. All the old AFL teams are johnny-come-latelys, and all the old NFL expansion teams, including the Dallas Cowboys, the same. Only a handful of the oldest NFL teams have any claim to stake in this regard, and in all but one case their claims are flawed.

The Cleveland Browns? They should be close, but the real Cleveland Browns are now playing in Baltimore under a fictitious coat of arms. The Dog-Pounders are cheering for a fraud. (It's also been said that Philadelphia has no respect for the Dog Pound because in Cleveland it's a section; in Philadelphia it's the whole stadium.) Baltimore may love the Browns-turned-Ravens, but the Colts of Johnny Unitas are playing in Indianapolis, who also love their Colts, the same way St. Louis loves their Rams, with the fierce denial of the jilted. Who's left? Detroit? Their loyalties are understandably more divided than Philadelphia's -- Tigers, Pistons, Red Wings -- not to mention a city that has itself devolved into exile neighborhoods, so that those who can afford tickets live in the suburban donut that grew up around the decaying cemetery of old Detroit. The Steelers? Another dead city repopulated by yuppies who cheer for a great football team which is exactly that and nothing more. The Redskins? The nation's most transient city. How many umpteenth generation fans at RFK every week? Count them on your fingers and toes.

Only two contenders, really. Chicago and New York. Of these, New York is easily disposed of. Sports in New York -- all sports in New York -- is more a function of media coverage than anything else. Too many words and images overwhelm fundamental truths. New Yorkers drive their teams away (Dodgers, baseball Giants), they can be manipulated into dividing their loyalties and creating brand new ones (Jets, Mets). They have more hunger for sensational stories about their teams than they have regard for the teams themselves (Yankees, football Giants). They are fundamentally inhospitable: the New York Giants play in New Jersey, and they are booed and derided even more than they think the Eagles are.

Which leaves only Da Bearz. I won't make a case against them. It's close. It really is. But here's my personal opinion. Philadelphia is older and more used to symbols that are alive in the heart. The Liberty Bell. Valley Forge. Independence Hall. William Penn's hat deterring for many generations the rise of skyscrapers. The past living on so concretely into the present. And so, I submit, also the Eagles.

How does Donovan McNabb fit into this picture as a symbol and adopted member of the family? He is the greatest black quarterback who has ever played in the NFL. You could look it up. He has demonstrated the ability to be a pure and deadly passer, to win championships, to overcome injuries and setbacks, to survive in the league as a superstar for a decade (or will, come next fall). He is therefore, like Philadelphia, a first, a milestone in his own right. And just like Philadelphia, he has always struggled to receive the respect that should be automatically due him. A first round draft choice, a good citizen with a lovely wife and parents and no personal scandals, a hardworking and usually charming but complex and sometimes contradictory figure, who is for these reasons just like the city he plays for. He has doubts, insecurities, and odd quirks, he frequently feels unloved and misunderstood, yet it is impossible to travel anywhere in the whole Delaware Valley without seeing the Number 5 McNabb jersey -- in green, white, black, pink, and now yellow and neon blue -- on toddlers, grandmas, dudes, chicks, accountants, and stevedores of every possible ethnic origin.

These are the same people who voted him the greatest Eagle quarterback in the team's 75-year history, a result announced Sunday at the same game he began to a smattering of boos mixed with a great many more cheers.

He has mixed feelings. The family understands that. The family also doesn't want him to mouth off to total strangers about it. We have enough problems getting any respect as it is. And I'm sure that's exactly how the McNabb family feel about any disagreements they have internally. But we'll get over it. Like all insecure people (and cities) Donovan thinks that if everyone doesn't love him all the time, maybe nobody loved him ever. Like the Italians of South Philly, he sounds off about such feelings when he has them. That doesn't mean he's going to quit being dutiful and hard-working and loyal himself. It just hurts, you know? Like when some shallow uppity city like New York trashes a whole other city because they happened to overhear a private argument.

Regardless of what the boos sound like, Donovan McNabb has as long as he needs in this city to play out his destiny. He's always had that. Philadelphians don't need to hear more than a few lines about his childhood experiences of racism to get it. Everybody else in Philadelphia has his own tale of woe to tell, and they'll scowl and carp at Donovan's right up to the moment when they see the next glimpse of that heart and that smile which they will never cease to recognize as their own.

All the other cities don't have this deep down, rough-hewn, well, love. The constant trashing of Philadelphia fans is actually a kind of envy. Unlike Terry Bradshaw, Donovan McNabb will not be alone when he is inducted into the Football Hall of Fame. In this city, once an Eagle, always an Eagle. Jaworski, Cunningham, Garcia, and so many others are family, regardless of what other uniforms they wore and regardless of how much they got booed. Period.

(Yes, there will be Philadelphians present even when T.O. goes into the Hall of Fame. You can see his jersey when you hit the road, too.)

In Philly, your own mother can boo you. She loves you enough to know you can do better. How else do you think those frozen, starving sons of the American Revolution stormed out of Valley Forge to beat the British at Trenton? They were so afraid they'd fail, humiliated and scorned, that they forced themselves to do the impossible.

Eagles 56. Lions 21. All the rest of you can go suck eggs.

But if anyone suggests wearing those retro uniforms again, there's going to be a fight. Yelling. Name-calling. Booing. The works.

In a Nutshell

YOU. Let's hear it for the babies. Sometimes their crayon work really does turn up a gem. Here's a cubic zirconium identified via Drudge:

Protesters also assembled at Columbia. Dozens stood near the lecture hall where Ahmadinejad was scheduled to speak, linking arms and singing traditional Jewish folk songs about peace and brotherhood, while nearby a two-person band played "You Are My Sunshine."

Signs in the crowd displayed a range of messages, including one that read "We refuse to choose between Islamic fundamentalism and American imperialism."

Gosh. It seems like a perfect bumper sticker for a Honda hybrid. But it's actually the grain of sand that begins an avalanche of questions on which our lives and future depend:

Do you, in fact, know how to choose? Between any alternatives. If you don't, you're not conscious and not really alive at all.

If you know how but really do refuse to choose, does that mean you think no choice will be made at all? That no one will ultimately choose for you?

Do you think the alternatives fail to differ? That Sharia Law is somehow identical with the state of American imperialism that compels you to do whatever you want, whenever you want to do it, however you want to do it, wherever you want to do it, via cellphone, laptop, MySpace, YouTube, and, and miscellaneous party drugs until your gonads fall out from sheer exhaustion or your brain suddenly farts into a coma?

Do you believe that any differences which do exist are immaterial to your advanced spirituality? That you are equally comfortable with a tube top or a burkha, a BMW convertible or a donkey, electricity or lamps fueled by camel urine, a divorce attorney or a public stoning, a rave or a sudden disembowelment by suicide bomber, a promiscuous Spring Break from college or lifelong imprisonment until your brother strangles you for catching and returning the gaze of his friend?

Are you so enervated and purposeless that you don't care if you live or die under any circumstances?

Have you somehow assimilated the lesson of the self-hating geniuses who superintended your education so thoroughly that you would find more meaning in dying a painful, pointless death at the hands of passionate enemies than you would in existing for even one more day in a world where you face the responsibility of discovering your own reason for living?

Or do you somehow imagine that you, being you, really are immune from all consequences, good or ill, through the perfect virtue of being you? I guess that's what John Lennon thought. How well did it work for him? Then again, he wasn't you, and you are special. Right?

If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then move to Saudi Arabia now. Start the dying process you desire before any worthwhile life is wasted defending yours. Throwing value after trash is not sacrifice, but waste. There is nothing about you that is worth sacrifice.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Nixon Sues.

Dan explaining CBS policy during the Carter Administration.

OUR FRIENDLY UNCLE. Former CBS anchorman Dan Nixon is suing his longtime network employer, CBS, for $70 million. Friday night, he told CNN journalist Larry Moyers that the story which resulted in his firing was accurate and that the documents he cited in that story were authentic even though they were written in Microsoft Word 30 years after the fact. Moyers vigorously cross-examined him about Trish's marriage and Pat's health, which are both reportedly fine. The CBS News organization continues to deny that it has ever heard of Dan Nixon or his absurd claims about the Texas Air National Guard, although Larry Moyers stated unequivocally, on camera, that he believes every word Nixon told him. He further announced his intention to believe every word Britney Spears tells him tomorrow.

Nixon's biography is recounted in full at Wikipedia:

Dan Milhouse Nixon was the second anchorman of CBS News, and was the only U.S. anchor to resign that position. Named twice to the office -- the second time being after the genteel execution of co-anchor Connie Chung -- he served from 1981 to 2005. He was also the thirty-sixth White House correspondent of the United States, serving CBS during the presidential administration of Richard Rather (1968–1974). During the Korean War Nixon served as a mumble, mumble, mumble before being hired by CBS, and later served as a substitute sometime anchor when Walter Cronkite was having his stigmata seen to. After an unsuccessful and bitterly divisive cage fight for the anchor chair in 1976, when Cronkite lost three-quarters of his brain in a yachting accident, Nixon regained favor by kissing President's Carter's ass for four years and was eventually ordained as Pope, er, Grand Inquisitor, er, The Anchor at CBS in 1981.

Under Nixon's watch, the fourth estate of the United States followed a foreign policy marked by appeasement of the Soviet Union, a highly successful cover-up of the consequences of defunding the Vietnam War, frank mourning of the demise of communism, repeated celebrations of the dictatorial regimes of Castro and Mao Tse Dung, and the enthusiastic advocacy of defeat in all military ventures of the United States. Nixon's domestic policies featured extravagantly socialist rhetoric, inflammatory reporting on racial matters, and candidly seditious reporting of innumerable rumors and untruths about Republlican presidents. As a result of the Nthgate scandal in 2004, Nixon finally resigned the CBS anchor desk in the face of likely embarrassment to the CBS News organization in 2005. His successor, Katherine Couric, issued a controversial pardon for any journalistic crimes Nixon may have committed. Her career subsequently declined to a zero in the ratings, which was a world record.

Gosh, it reads kind of like an obituary. What a shame. We can only hope that the courts will restore to Dan the same lustre they have given back to Don Imus, who was so wrongly pilloried for his journalistic assessment of the Rutgers women's basketball team. The truth will out. Eventually. And the truth really should be worth $70 million. Or at least $20 million.

Friday, September 21, 2007

It's Lose-Lose for Obama

THE DEAD HAND OF THE PAST. I'm not saying it's a deliberate setup, but the last thing Obama needed in his presidential candidacy was the "Jena 6" flap. No matter how he chooses to treat the case, he will fare the worse for it.

This is no Rosa Parks moment. While it seems clear that injustices have been done, the facts of the situation reflect discredit on every side. Yes, white people have behaved badly -- so badly that most Americans won't even be able to relate it to their own experience. It's as if this part of Louisiana belongs more to the realm of backwoods horror movies than to the nation whose last two secretaries of state have been black. Popular perception is likely to be that the local neanderthals need a good smacking around, not that the rest of the country needs to be immersed in another nationally orchestrated guilt trip. Nooses dangling from a 'white folks' tree? No. Sorry. That's not us. That's just some kind of sick throwback to a time we really have overcome. An anachronism so yellowed in its stereotypes that it's not a symbol of anything, just a repellent exception.

But the other side -- the aggrieved, victimized black side -- is just as replete with stereotypes, including thuggish acts by young black males, an absentee father who shows up only when his troubled son has been transformed by the media into a famous victim, a chance for a young man, Mychal Bell, to escape into a better life via a sports scholarship --a chance thrown away for multiple instances of violent behavior. We are not talking about the persecution of the innocent here; we are talking at most about excessive punishment for indisputably bad behavior.

What we have, in sum, is a whole bunch of unattractive people whose worst impulses were sparked into criminality by the perennially easy excuse of race. Sad, yes. Cause for a nostalgic reenactment of the most stirring scenes from "Eyes on the Prize"? No. In this context, sixties-style marches seem every bit as anachronistic as the nooses on that now-slain tree.

If Obama takes the bait being dangled before him by Sharpton and Jackson and charges into the fray like an outraged civil rights leader of old, he will cease to be what he has seemed thus far to many middle-of-the-road voters, a presidential candidate who is an American first and a black man second. This would be a fatal shift in perception. It's not that Americans can't understand the rationale for black first, American second. They can and most likely do. It's that they probably won't elect a President of the United States who puts 13 percent of the population above the other 87 percent in his priorities.

On the other hand, if Obama tries to distance himself from the most extreme rhetoric of the Sharptons et al, he will risk losing the reflexive black vote that constitutes the most monolithically reliable bloc of the Democrat Party. The "not black enough" charge has always been out there waiting, whether or not Jesse Jackson actually voiced it in so many words. What Obama can't overcome without the active support of traditional African-American leadership is that he is not really an African-American. He is, by accident of birth, half-African, and first-generation at that. He cannot claim the legacy of slavery in his ancestry and  the forgiveness for every conceivable misstep that entails, the forgiveness that enables Marion Berry, William Jefferson, and Alcee Hastings to keep getting elected to high office despite abundant evidence of corruption, incompetence, and outright criminality. He will always be suspect and always subject to the whims of the aging black power structure.

The saddest part of Obama's Hobson's choice is what it says about that aging black power structure. In forcing his hand this way, they seem to be saying that they don't really want a black President of the United States. They'd prefer to see him lose out to the cynical and ruthless juggernaut of the Hillary campaign. Why? I don't presume to know. All I can do is speculate. Is it envy of his ability to reach the broader audience that has always remained stubbornly beyond their grasp? Or is it a species of racism outsiders know little of that divides African-Americans from Africans in deep and mysterious ways? Or is it, more nefariously, the most cynical political calculation of all, that the election of the first black President will deal a mortal blow to the culture of victimology which insists that black people can only succeed in this country through affirmative action and the dozens of other race-based privileges which have made a mockery of the color-blind society Martin Luther King envisioned in his ennobling dream?

I don't agree with Obama's politics. But I'd hate to see his opportunity to prove the eternal viability of the American Dream sabotaged by those who prefer government compensations for permanent second-class status to the dignity and pride of true equality.

Play the Jena 6 game very very carefully, Mr. Obama. There are a lot of us, conservatives included, who don't want you to lose this campaign because you're black.

UPDATE. We have a comment from a fine blogger, Baldilocks. Go see what she has to say about everything. Also, one of the InstaPunk bloggers has an op-ed piece in today's Providence Journal. It's about Glenn Reynolds's favorite subject: Why journalists really better oughta start paying attention to the blogosphere. (Or go to, click 'opinion,' then 'contributors,' then 'Robert Laird.') Who'd a thunk it? Certainly not us.

And thanks to Instapundit for the link.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Price of Talent

Eminem                                 Rimbaud         

SNAP. I told a friend that I would write this essay, but he works for a newspaper and can't use my graphics. Rimbaud was a far greater poet than Eminem could ever be, but he was the Eminem of his day. Still, I have to admit that in an age of no poetry, Eminem has been at least a flashlight in a time that needed a torch.

He's a crude, illiterate bum. Whereas Rimbaud was a crude, highly literate bum. Rimbaud wrote:

Comme je descendais des Fleuves impassibles,
Je ne me sentis plus guidé par les haleurs :
Des Peaux-Rouges criards les avaient pris pour cibles,
Les ayant cloués nus aux poteaux de couleurs.

J'étais insoucieux de tous les équipages,
Porteur de blés flamands ou de cotons anglais.
Quand avec mes haleurs ont fini ces tapages
Les Fleuves m'ont laissé descendre où je voulais.

Dans les clapotements furieux des marées,
Moi, l'autre hiver, plus sourd que les cerveaux d'enfants,
Je courus ! Et les Péninsules démarrées
N'ont pas subi tohu-bohus plus triomphants.

La tempête a béni mes éveils maritimes.
Plus léger qu'un bouchon j'ai dansé sur les flots
Qu'on appelle rouleurs éternels de victimes,
Dix nuits, sans regretter l'oeil niais des falots !

Here's a reasonably ept translation of the first four verses of Rimbaud's Le Bateau Ivre. (Well, it's not a poetic translation, I admit, such as you'd find with Mallarme's translation of Poe, but these are things you should never ever try at home, kids. For example, I charge disgusting amounts of  money for translating individual poems from Baudelaire's Fleurs de Mal into English. You don't even want to know what it costs for my versions of Cain et Abel and Les Litanies de Satan. I shudder at the expense when I think of it myself. Hideous. Extortionate. But ultimately worth it.)

On the other hand, there's Eminem. Like Rimbaud, he's an enfant terrible, an artistic anarchist, a sexual enigma (though it's unlikely Detroit Boy had an affair with a bald 19th century French poet named Verlaine), and a remarkable innovator in that he reinterpreted rap as a form to the point of discovering that it didn't have to be about listing how much sexplay, gunfire, and gold dentrifice he was sporting. In the context of the the 21st century this counts as a significant artistic breakthrough. Eminem said:

Now hush little baby, don't you cry
Everything's gonna be alright
Stiffen that upper lip up little lady, I told ya
Daddy's here to hold ya through the night
I know mommy's not here right now and we don't know why
We feel how we feel inside
It may seem a little crazy, pretty baby
But I promise momma's gon' be alright

It's funny
I remember back one year when daddy had no money
Mommy wrapped the Christmas presents up
And stuck 'em under the tree and said some of 'em were from me
Cause daddy couldn't buy 'em
I'll never forget that Christmas I sat up the whole night crying
Cause daddy felt like a bum, see daddy had a job
But his job was to keep the food on the table for you and mom
And at the time every house that we lived in
Either kept getting broken into and robbed
Or shot up on the block and your mom was saving money for you in a jar
Tryna start a piggy bank for you so you could go to college
Almost had a thousand dollars till someone broke in and stole it
And I know it hurt so bad it broke your momma's heart
And it seemed like everything was just startin' to fall apart.

You have to admit, this is a far cry from boasting about all the women you've sodomized. That's why I have a soft spot for Eminem. And I contend he really is the Rimbaud of his time. All the rest of his colleagues spend their endless iambics bragging about Bentleys, the huge rear ends of the women they abuse, and their willingness to shoot everyone who doesn't agree that they've nailed more women than anyone else. In this context, Eminem is as great an innovator as Rimbaud and then some.

Studs who wrote either masterful poetry or inspired doggerel.

The greatest point of confluence is what could be. Rimbaud gave up poetry at the age of seventeen and took up smuggling guns. He told his literary friends that he had already accomplished all he needed to as a poet. He was right. It's probable that Eminem has accomplished all he needs to as a rapper. Of course, no one was offering Rimbaud millions to keep on repeating himself for countless CDs. Maybe -- just maybe -- Eminem has the same caliber of character as Arthur Rimbaud.

The window is open here for all your bets.

UPDATE. In reviewing the post, I find I was harder on Eminem than I meant to be. Wordsmithing aside, he does fulfill the prime requirement of a true poet -- he rips his own ribcage apart to expose his naked beating heart. And in doing so, he proves beyond doubt that he does have a heart. Given where and what he comes from, that's astonishing. He is absolutely a poet. Probably not as great as Rimbaud, but that's for history to decide, not me. That a form so degenerated from its inception as rap could produce one real poet is a miracle. I shouldn't have damned him with faint praise. As I did. To make up for it, I ask all of you to go here and watch the whole thing. Then ask yourself if you could be so honest and (gulp) eloquent? (If YouTube is your measure, also check out Rimbaud here. No music, no beat, no French, and he's still astounding...)

Please note that this is not a response to commenters, of which there have been none on this post. The ones who know something about Eminem know nothing about Rimbaud. And vice versa. That's my job.

Back to Archive Index

Amazon Honor System Contribute to Learn More