I was just writing a chapter for Indisputable about Austin's struggling
hip-hop scene and I pointed out how none of the local MCs get the buzz
guys like J. Cole (NC) or Kid Cudi (Ohio) have gotten even though
Austin is bigger than their respective cities population-wise, but I
followed that chapter up with one about the indie scene here which is
about as good as it gets in the U.S. if you ask me.
So sorry for the cliche title of this here post, but it was too good to pass up to let you all know that SPEAK is my new favorite band in Austin.
Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love The Soldier Thread and Scorpion Child, listen to L.A.X.'s "Something to Say" on repeat daily and regularly check out gigs by The Laughing and Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears (when they're in town). But with SPEAK, it's something else.
Between the local acts that play at Mohawk, Beauty Bar and Red River scene every week, many of whom will play or have played SXSW showcases, and the bands like Spoon and Ghostland Observatory that become major festival regulars, Austin is always cookin' up something for Austinites to rave about to their friends in other cities.
Well here you go: SPEAK is a fresh, stylish band that has cool factor written all over them. Two years from now the Jonas Brothers could do a song with Jay-Z and Travis Barker and never look as cool and hip as these young guys. With SPEAK, it's like I finally have a band that gives me the feeling this city gives me on the first day of SXSW, only in late January which is how Beauty Bar felt this past Friday at the Learning Secrets party.
SPEAK's "Carrie" makes me feel like I'm jumping off the diving board at Barton Springs or ridin' my bike down South Congress after grabbing a drink at Jo's. And I only bring my bike out for special events.
Truth is, you don't need to know who Carrie is. Just thank her for making these guys create such a spine-tingling snippet of utter happiness. Sure, it can't last forever. I'll eventually go back to listening to Letting Up Despite Great Faults' stellar EP, something a bit more mellow, and working on my book in a second...but for now just let me dance. At least that's what I feel when I hear that chorus coming out of lead-singer Troupe's mouth. And those handclaps! SHIIIIIIIIIT.
I should probably add that I'm hosting the listening party for SPEAK's new EP, Hear Here, on Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 10pm at Sneak Attack, but rather than that come off as my having something to gain from promoting this band I think you should turn it around and think about how awesome this band must be for me to let them debut their recorded effort in my store even though I've only seen them live once. Yeah, that's right, I've only seen/heard them live once...but trust me, that one show at Emo's during free week was worth so much more.
This Massachusetts Senate race which yielded a Republican (Scott Brown) Senator in a seat long held by Democrat Ted Kennedy is being made out to be a much bigger deal than it needs to be. Sure it means that Obama hasn't completely won over Americans on healthcare reform and that Democrats have been a little too cavalier about that 60-seat, filibuster-proof majority in the Senate...but let's not get carried away.
I still don't see a nationally-known Republican that could challenge Obama. At least not in a 51% kind of way. And I'm not sure Republicans want to take Congress back if it means making Obama look better in the process, as it did for Clinton when most of his historical legislative accomplishments (even those that originated from the desks of Republicans) came after the Contract With America that put Gingrich and fellow Republicans in power.
Besides, based on the history of my lifetime, I happen to prefer it when we're not dealing with just one party in power to make a decision in Washington. And this is very recent history. That's why I think we should just wait and see about healthcare reform, the November mid-term election and President Obama's ability to show some real domestic progress.
Many of my friends and colleagues have mentioned my book Real Role Models as a good read for MLK Day. This may come across as padding myself on the back, but I agree with them in full. The goal of the book is to reach people who could truly be impacted by positive role models...the type of people who are following in Dr. King's footsteps.
But if you're looking for something that captures Dr. King's words directly, I highly recommend you pick up Why We Can't Wait, a book I have re-read every year since college. Originally published in 1963, the book was written while Dr. King sat in a Birmingham jail as part of the campaign against that city's policies that were degrading and unfair towards black residents of the city. Even while in jail, Dr. King managed to use the column edges of his newspaper to start writing the book, which includes a letter to fellow clergymen - a letter that I consider one of the greatest letters in American history - that decries inaction toward the Civil Rights Movement.
In the book, Dr. King writes, "Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself..."
In my book, Louis and I add that, "in writing about black role models, we have tried to capture many of the experiences, perspectives, and thoughts of people who, like President Obama, are following in Dr. King's footsteps...they have done so while striving to make Dr. King's dream a reality not only for themselves, but also for youth, who can learn from their struggles and follow in their footsteps."
There was a lot of press over LeBron James dancing during a game against the Chicago Bulls a few weeks ago...
While LeBron may be the king on the court, his dancing is borrowed from Puff Daddy and his teammate Danny Green, also seen dancing above, which got me thinking...who is the best dancer amongst basketball players?
Danny Green has been dancing long before his NBA career, dating back as early as his college days at UNC.
That's a pretty good move he has there, but what about University of Kentucky's John Wall?
But the best dancer in basketball, has to be none other than Shaq Daddy.