Category: Commentary

Movie Magic from Abroad

I haven’t posted much here (read: at all) at the Undgrd headquarters lately, but lately doesn’t equate eternity so I am back from my hiatus, sabbatical, or whatever you want to call it. A lot has happened in the world since I’ve been away on my little vacation, but this is neither the time nor space for me to discuss said happenings. Instead, I’d like to share a movie with you that I saw recently called City of God. The movie is a Brazilian production, first released in 2002, that depicts the lives of various people from a Rio de Janeiro favela (slum) from their youth until adulthood. The favela that serves as the main setting for the film is filled with vice, which is  supplied mainly from the crime lords and bandits that rule it. The film is masterfully shot and every character has an emotional weight and significance that instantly brings you closer to the movie. The acting is spot on, even eerie at times, considering some of the actions that take place during the film. It’s a gripping tale that intertwines the lives of many people, sometimes tragically and sometimes magnificently, but nonetheless, effectively and artfully. The closing scenes are particularly powerful and a fitting ending to such an outstanding piece of cinematic work. Check out the trailer above.

Football Foul Play

Ever since the world cup, I have become quite the football/soccer fan. The only sport I enjoy equally as much or maybe a little bit more is basketball and that’s saying a lot because I love the game of basketball. At this point, I know that when North London’s Arsenal are facing FC Barcelona at the Camp Nou in Barcelona for a chance at a spot in the UEFA Champion’s League quarterfinals, it’s far beyond  a “big game”. Even bigger perhaps are the many stars that battle it out on the pitch for supremacy. One of these stars, Robin van Persie, was questionable for the match, but did end up starting. The start was huge news for the Gunners. van Persie not only scored the first goal in their eventual 2-1 defeat of Barcelona at the Emirates for the first leg of the round, but he arguably increases his team’s level of play greatly whenever he is on the pitch.

So, imagine the horror on Arsene Wenger’s face when van Persie gets a second yellow (first yellow was ticky-tack to begin with) and a sending off for a shot at goal, less than two seconds after the offside whistle was blown and the flag went up. The referee’s excuse? Time wasting. van Persie’s argument? 90,000 plus screaming fans. There is no way that the official is justified in that booking and sending off. van Persie was focused completely on the ball and framing his shot. As soon as he got control, he shot it. He didn’t even dribble the ball. In a battle between 90,00 screaming fans (This is European football. Truly exuberant, screaming fans.) versus a small whistle tens of yards away from a running, focused player, the 90,000 fans have the sonic upper hand. At the point of the sending off, Arsenal was obviously down to 10 men. Barca goes on to score two unanswered goals. there are calls that UEFA is corrupt from pitch to penthouse but I won’t call it that. This was just horrid officiating that caused Arsenal to end their UCL hopes with their heads hung low in Barcelona. Just embarrassing. What do you think? Justifiable red or down right mistake of a call? Feel free to air your opinion in the comments.

R.I.P. Jun Seba: 02/07/74-02/26/10

Jun Seba AKA Nujabes (new-jah-bes) has been one of my favorite DJ/hip-hop producers of the last few years. Hailing from Japan, he was known for mixing jazz, rap, & hip-hop in his music to much success. If you’ve ever been watching Adult Swim on Cartoon Network late at night, the show “Samurai Champloo” features a lot of music done by Nujabes. Sadly, he passed away after a traffic accident last year. As what would have been his 37th birthday approaches, I decided to share with ya’ll the song that got me hooked on this artist here. May I present “Feather” featuring Cise Starr & Akin. Enjoy.

Oh How the Mighty Have Fallen…Part Deux

I knew this wouldn’t be over. I did an article on Jereme Rogers, skateboard and (allegedly) asshole extraordinaire, a while back concerning his retirement from skateboarding and his entry into the rap game. Since then, I hadn’t heard anything from J. Rog. Admittedly, I wasn’t looking for any new music from him but that’s neither here nor there. Well, he’s back with another awful hip hop song. It seems this time J.Rog is trying to rob some of Lil B’s “swag” to come up. Not a good move young man.

Stick to this son:

For the Phoenix of Prop 19

If Prop 19 would have passed, you might have reinvented a whole musical genre and been on the cover of TIME like Thelonius Monk. What a horror...

The darling of 21st century agriculture is not a biochemically enhanced stalk of corn or strawberries the size of basketballs. It is, instead, marijuana, the country’s most profitable naturally grown product. This very popular plant, which has been labeled everything from a “cure all” to “an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death “ has been clouded by misconceptions. Those who are in favor of its consumption and legalization usually tout that smoking it has no ill health effects while those who oppose it believe that it is an extremely potent drug that produces the same side effects as drugs like crystal meth, crack, and heroine.” I think it’s time that both sides sit down and truly examine marijuana and get their facts straight.

But before I suggest someone get their facts straight, I must get mines in order first. Now, before I really sat down and did some in-depth research on marijuana, I already knew that smoking it could cause bad things to happen to your body as with anything you smoke. What I didn’t know is that Marijuana has more than 400 chemicals in it and can breed in two ways: Indica and Sativa. Each type gives you a different type of high. For instance, Sativa will give you a very cerebral high, while indica will give you more of a body high. There are hundreds of different strands under each type with varying levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).

THC is the most important part of marijuana because this is the main chemical that gives you marijuana’s various altered physical and mental properties. I learned that marijuana isn’t just a stimulant or depressant, it can imitate the symptoms of both. The higher the level of THC, the more intense the high will be. Marijuana is informally named by its level of THC with terms like “reggie” (low quality, inexpensive product), “mids” or “middies” (medium quality product with good potency), and “highs”,  “loud”, “headies” or “heads” (the highest potency marijuana you can buy. It can be very rare, and is very expensive). Each level produces a different type of high and as mentioned before, vary in price and availability. THC stays in the blood stream and fat of your body for varying amount of times depending on your height, weight, and consumption habits. The more you use and the higher your tolerance, the longer it takes for the THC to leave your system.

So, why would I choose this topic to write about? I chose to write a little piece about marijuana because there are some many misconceptions and fallacies surrounding this topic that it would be good to give my personal insight on it and maybe clear some things up. First of all, there are literally no deaths directly attributed to excessive marijuana use. This is not urban folklore, this is the actual truth. There are no studies attributing prolonged marijuana abuse to insanity or social awkwardness. You’d also be hard pressed to find a murder case where the suspect committed the crime because of marijuana. THC may have been in the criminal’s system, but the presence THC is not a legitimate reason to cloud judgment to the point of not knowing you are committing a felonious crime. Also, smoking a joint or blunt (when weed is rolled in cigarette paper or tobacco leafs in cigar fashion respectively) is not as dangerous to you’re body as smoking a cigarette.

First of all, cigarettes are extremely processed with different unnatural chemicals and additives. Even the paper in cigarettes is not clean burning. As a matter of fact, cigarettes are 50% treated tobacco, 20% reclaim (old, dry, shredded cigarettes), and 30% recon (a shredded paper treated with something called a “mother liquor” or tobacco liquidized and treated with chemicals). A joint is just marijuana, which even with it’s 400 chemicals, is all natural, rolled in relatively clean-burning rolling paper made from wood pulp, hemp, flax, or rice. Do the math, and a joint is far less toxic. A blunt, or marijuana consumed in tobacco wrapped cigar fashion, is a bit more harmful than a joint because the tobacco wrap contains more natural and unnatural chemicals. Now, smoking is dangerous to you’re lungs nonetheless, but smoking a blunt or joint does not equal up to the amount of bad, toxic chemicals in a cigarette.

Also, marijuana is not truly, addictive. See, people who smoke it like it enough to do it often. That is not addiction. Many people enjoy video games often. This is commonly misunderstood as video game addiction. There is a fundamental difference that is blatant and often ignored in an attempt to exaggerate a person’s consumption habits. Also, smoking is not the only way you can use marijuana. You can cook it into foods or use a vaporizer, both healthy alternatives to lighting up. Marijuana truly does help with extreme pain and discomfort. Take for example a person battling with insomnia. Think about this: You have insomnia and you need some type of medicine. You can take a pharmaceutical drug that has been linked to depression and suicidal thoughts or smoke some good, potent, marijuana and wake up fine the next day. Weed does not make people want to kill, rob, steal, or do crime unless the person was susceptible to doing these things before they got high. Other drugs like say alcohol, crack, and crystal meth can alter the mind to the point where a person thinks that type of extreme behavior is completely rational. Oh, and did I mention one of those is completely legal?

It’s not about people just wanting to get high, even though there is nothing fundamentally wrong with that. It’s partly about the principle of other more deadly and devastating drugs being legal and this natural, externally harmless drug being prohibited in majority of the world and the fact that it is a drug that can really help people with incurable problems. Our country is firmly based on the idea of liberty yet, when it comes to drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and the pharmaceutical industry, which are all potentially deadly drugs, get preferential treatment. Marijuana is a great alternative to pharmaceutical medicines that can have some horrible side effects. I do think that it should be legalized and regulated. It can’t be like the weed wild west out there. But, if you legalize marijuana in the U.S., you immediately undermine thousands of criminal organizations in this country. Weed related violence is relatively low to begin with, but imagine how much revenue we would be taking away from the illegal drug cartels if legal, legit, private dispensaries are the prime suppliers to a legal market. And with our country so deep in debt, why would we ignore the biggest domestically grown cash crop since God knows what? The negative effects of marijuana are marginal and far less than cigarettes, and if the government doesn’t care if cigarette smokers kill themselves with manufactured poison, why do they feel the need to be in pot smokers’ business? It’s simple really: dispensaries would have to go through an in-depth qualification process, they must open away from schools and community centers, and you wouldn’t be able to smoke pot in certain areas deemed inappropriate. With that simple regulation along with requiring people to get medical or recreational licenses, the legal marijuana trade will go smoothly in this country.

Part of the prohibition of marijuana has nothing to do with the plant itself. It is all-apart of the bogus “war on drugs” first introduced by President Nixon in the ‘60s. People have been smoking weed since the dawn of time in one way or another, but when the government started to see that marijuana was the most prominent drug of the counter-culture movements of the ‘50s and ‘60s, they were quick to shut it down and regard it with disdain. After all, classic conservative thought argues that anything that is against the established norm is a dangerous threat and it was only logical to the right wing that the weed the hippies smoked, amongst other, more powerful hallucinogenic-based drugs, was the reason behind their revolutionary thinking.

(I encourage you to watch parts two through ten which are also on youtube)

From there we get to the point where the government, who is responsible for drug related atrocities like the oversight and implementation of narcotics into low-income neighborhoods in order to undergo ethnic cleansing and fund rebel military groups, realized that many marijuana users were easy targets for the DEA’s “war on drugs”. The “war on drugs” is a crusade against the consumers of drugs and not the providers. So, instead of the drug cartels, which produce all of the drug violence and the actual drugs to the users, being the first focus of the government’s attacks, the government goes after the users of drugs first. This, prompted them to set wildly unfair laws where just as little as possession could net years of jail time thus feeding right into the prison-industrial complex. A man whose only offense is smoking pot should not be in jail for any amount of time next to murderers and thieves So, the fact that weed is illegal has nothing to do with weed itself if you ask me. It has to do instead with an extension of the government’s scheme to institutionalize people, especially minorities, based on the bogus grounds of marijuana prohibition and based on enlarging the bottom line of the criminal justice industry . Even in an age where medical marijuana is legal in many States, the DEA unconstitutionally ignores the States’ laws and routinely makes busts on completely legal dispensaries that provide the sick with the medicine they were prescribed. How can any American champion this blatant breach of our constitution? Also, doesn’t it seem a bit shady that the government is sweeping thousands of pounds of legal marijuana, that they obtained in violation of our constitution, under the rug? Where does all that weed go? My best bet is that it ends up back on the streets and the money some how finds its way into some fed’s pockets. The “war on drugs” itself is a cash cow and pork machine. The people that conduct this war have no interest in winning it. It’s continual existence is a money making tool to them.  Our current president admitted to smoking marijuana and he won the 2008 election but many universal legalization bills, the most prominent in California, fail at the polls and the president champions the raids carried out by the DEA. So, the same voters that were fine with their president being a former marijuana user , vote against it’s legalization based on what? I believe based on completely irrational and ridiculous rhetoric that has been repeated by most anti-legalization proponents for nearly a century.

After all I learned about marijuana in my short life, my thoughts on the substance will not change. I feel strongly about this subject because it goes way beyond people getting high or not. People know exactly what they’re doing to their bodies if they choose to smoke, and I’m pretty sure they’re perfectly fine with that. People fail to realize that the prohibition of this substance is not based on scientific studies or if it is harmful but instead on socio-economic, racial, and idealistic prejudices that are decades old. It is the 21st century. It is time to shake ourselves loose of these antiquated laws and ideals and let people choose if they want to consume the substance or not. Honestly, I think they’re giving marijuana more credit than it deserves. Its medicinal legalization has already been successful in a handful of states, like Colorado, and last time I checked the headlines, citizens in Denver weren’t complaining about being suffocated by marijuana smoke. The American public should reevaluate how they feel on marijuana and realize that at the end of the day, the laws surrounding it are extremely contradictory and unjust.

Serious Funny Business

I honestly don’t know what’s funnier. The fact that Charlie Murphy wasn’t funny at all and was verbally notified of this by the crowd’s”boos” or the fact that he took the money and threw the “boos” back at them with a two word phrase and dipped. From what I can see in the video, CM wasn’t really providing the laughs that the crowd paid for and he probably didn’t really care because he’s Charlie Murphy. When you pay someone up-front I guess these things are liable to happen.

The Beginning of the End

I think marijuana has a better chance of getting legalized in Northern California than defense (that goes for the Raiders too). This may not be suitable for children.

Miami’s Vice

I’ve featured a few different Nike Basketball adverts here on the Undgrd mostly focusing on the Lebron signature series. I like to focus on Lebron’s shoes because I am a fan of his signature shoe series thus far, but I also like to follow the Lebron series because Lebron is Nike’s biggest basketball sponsorship star since Jordan. When it comes to style and technological evolution over a line of shoes, Lebron is Nike’s next flagship project after the successful Air Jordan line. When Lebron signed with the Heat earlier this year, Nike had a tough job on their hands re-marketing an athlete that half of the world thought was a traitor, and another half of the world thought was an athlete seizing his most favorable opportunity to win a championship. So, what was Nike to do, avoid the whole ordeal? Focus solely on it and defend Lebron’s decision subtly? Nike decided to invoke the now infamous question on what Lebron should do (or have done). Check out the advert above and stay tuned all tip off week for my opinion on Kevin Durant, the fate of the Knicks, and early season predictions.

Bringing the Heat

A new NBA season is quickly approaching us fans, and that means a new Lebron signature shoe is coming as well. I donned the Air Max Lebron VII the best so far of a pretty good serious of Lebron signature footwear. I went so far as to say that the VII was the best Nike basketball shoe in years. With all that high praise I gave to the VII, I was really excited about the thought of the VIII blowing me out the water and changing the game again. The early photos showed little promise though. The shoe was bulky, flywired to the brim, and had the same 360 Air sole as the VII. I was ready to write it off and condemn Nike for not keeping up the VII’s design momentum but, now with the final, refined version of the VIII set to release some time later this year, I can truly say, I’ve changed my mind. The kind of twist upper looks very cool and the materials look very premium. The Flywire touches are tastefully done but I really wish Nike would have worked in it’s Torch technology that is also found in their Hyperfuse model. The new 360 sole looks like it has a little bit more flexibility in it which I felt was a minor problem of the VIIs, so it’s nice to see the designers fix that. Check out the video with lead designer Jason Petrie to get a little bit more information on the brand new Lebron VIII.

I think I’m Phil Knight…

Say what you want about Nike’s products, but you have to respect their knack for some seriously outstanding ad campaigns. I could go through the list of their memorable campaigns, but quite frankly, I don’t feel like it. Sorry about that. Instead, take a look at this quick Nike ad that stars the ever entertaining Rick Ross, amongst others. It kind of surprised me that Nike would solicit the services of the BAWSE for their seemingly new “BOOM” campaign. They’ve used musical artists before, but Rawse seems a bit off base. Nike already released the Yeezys, could a Air MAX BAWSE be in the works? Who knows, maybe this Nike X Rapper thing is getting a lot more serious than we thought.