Monday, August 31, 2009
This song by the Austrailian group, Men at Work, has become emblematic of the great 80s rock era. Great tune.
WHEN I THINK OF YOU (1986)
This is probably my favorite Janet Jackson song, and clearly one of her best videos ever. Like her brother Michael Jackson, she helped usher in a period where stylized group dancing was the rage.
SAY YOU'LL BE THERE (1996)
Though critics like to say that The Spice Girls' debut single Wannabe is the signature tune, I believe this tune is their best.
There are just so many Eminem hits to choose from, but this song is very poignant - a conversation a dad has with his baby girl about growing up, making mistakes, and being your best. Powerful!
Thursday, August 27, 2009
I must admit, I have intentionally stayed away from commenting on the shameful and criminally irresponsible attacks on President Obama since inauguration. To call them disheartening would be an understatement.
One of the most incendiary and obvious attacks on the President has come from some recent town hall participants across the country: "I want my America back," they shout. This my America statement is utterly disgusting. No need to expound on it because it's become very clear what the statement means.
To all those mouthing this ridiculously coded crap, I offer an alternative view: America's racial and ethnic diversity is what has made this country rich, incandescent, and beautiful. Yes, there are different perspectives, different views, and different prescriptions for alleviating America's problems. Yes, many people, but one country. Not just my country, but our country.
I am member of one of the oldest black families in North Carolina, dating back to a plantation from the mid 1700s. But why am I any more American than recent immigrants from Mexico, Vietnam, Iran, Uganda, or Poland? The notion is ridiculous. America is continuously evolving, and it's our responsibility to adjust and adapt to some of the changes...in our America.
Barack Obama is the first in a long chorus to follow. What do I mean? I mean that in this half of the twenty-first century, a woman, an Asian-American and a Latino will sit in the Oval Office. Believe it. I see Arab-American and Native-American governors. And, I wouldn't be surprised if President Obama names an Asian-American to the Supreme Court - namely Gary Locke, who is America's only elected Asian-American Governor, and is currently Obama's Commerce Department Secretary. Additionally, there will be more white lawmakers (like U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen) representing mostly non-white cities and/or congressional districts. These are just some of the sweeping changes that we'll be witnessing in our America.
So rather than wage a losing fight against impending social and demographic changes, it is incumbent upon people to go beyond their communities, and to get to know the residents of other communities. I know that's easier said than done. But don't tell me it's not possible. Simply tolerating people is so my America. Moving forward, we need to value people more, which is a necessary ingredient to making our America work.
America doesn't revolve around any one group of people, and no one racial or ethnic group exclusively defines what it means to be an American. I wholeheartedly believe that. We all contribute.
I don't want to be misunderstood or misquoted though. I am not saying that racism, sexism, ethnic bigotry, and religious hatred will subside just because we reach out to each other. They won't subside. The idealist in me will still speak out against it, but I know its not going anywhere. We can't obliterate any of that, but, we can make sure that none of it obliterates our country. Yes, say it with me folks: our people, our country, our America. Got it?
Embrace. Empower. Educate. Expand. Enlighten. Let's do it.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Jess Cera /@jesscera
Why she rocks: Cera is a strong advocate of sustainable living. Her wonderful, must-read blog is evidence of that. She started a non-profit for families, children, and community issues, and, she helped start another non-profit to educate schools and youth groups about ways to incorporate sustainable living in their programs. Her favorite charity: @AshokaTweets. This nonprofit believes in promoting social entrepreneurship to tackle the world's most pressing and urgent issues. Since 1981, it has elected over 2,000 social entrepreneurs as Ashoka Fellows, providing them with living stipends, professional support, and access to an expanding international network of peers in more than 60 countries.
Why she rocks: She is a noted Senior Service Specialist and owner of Sanitasole Adult Day Health Services in Marco Island, FL. I really like her blog, and I appreciate how thoroughly and intelligently she's looked at all sides of the health care reform debate.
Why she rocks: She owned a health food store, currently manages a gym, and, for the last 25 years, has dedicated her life to helping people live a healthy life. And like me, she's a surfer!
Why she rocks: Jang is a great news anchor. She's a favorite of viewers in Seattle who love her sunny demeanor and community involvement. She speaks three languages fluently, (including Cantonese and Vietnamese) and is said to be on the fast track to national news.
Her favorite charities: She supports the Washington State Council of Firefighters' Burn Foundation. She also likes @wsffaorg, a nonprofit providing information, education and representation to the volunteer fire service of the State of Washington.
Why they rock: Saifra and Romaana are owners of the New York-based, luxury handbag firm NYLANOOR. The early buzz on their first collection is great, as it promises to have the "wow factor". Their company also has an awesome charitable component.
Their favorite charities: Saifra supports @lrbtamerica. It's a nonprofit that raises money and awareness to help fight blindness and to promote access to free, high quality eye care for the under served in Pakistan. Romaana supports @YOURDIL. It's a nonprofit that promotes awareness and raises funds that seek to eradicate illiteracy amongst the poorest children in Pakistan.
Why she rocks: She's a popular television personality, and a freelance writer who has worked in NYC and LA, and has traveled all over the world.
Why she rocks: She's a fashionista who divides her time between New York and Los Angeles. She's also an entrepreneur, freelance marketer, lifestyle guru & pop culture enthusiast.
Why she rocks: In addition to practicing yoga and writing letters in her free time, she also produces inspirational blogs for The Huffington Post. Recently, she released her critically acclaimed book Perseverance, which about the lives of 20 young, inspiring cancer survivors.
Why she rocks: She's a marketing strategist, aspiring author, tech-lover, and a sports and travel enthusiast. She's a serious chef and true lover of all things food.
Why she rocks: Creator of Role Model Media which she bills as "PR with a conscience." She's PR Director for design firm LPA Inc., a strong advocate for children, and an animal lover.
Her favorite charities: She likes @pcorpsconnect (Peace Corps Connect). It informs and engages people impacted by Peace Corps. She also supports two other charities which happen to be two of my favorites as well: @savethechildren & @sharestrength.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Writer and futurist Alvin Toffler wrote about the coming influence of computer technology in Third Wave, his great international bestseller from 1980. The book was about the “three waves” of the American economy: agricultural, industrial, and computerization. Each wave has impacted countries, communities and individuals in deeply profound ways.
A child of the Great Depression, my grandmother has had a front row seat to some of humanity’s most spectacular technological advances. Our economy is more computerized, information-based right now. And the way to thrive in this economy is to have the proper tools. And she is completely awe-inspired (not frightened) by an essential tool: the Internet.
My grandmother is making me proud. She's determined to not to be one of these folks who say, “You know, I just don’t get the point of social networking sites.” She's making it work for her, and connecting with people all over the planet.
Monday, August 17, 2009
The group Run DMC rocked! This was their first big hit, and one of the most influential songs in hip hop history. The loud lyrical delivery was complimented by heavy guitar riffs.
This was the lead single from U2's album, Rattle and Hum. It ranks as one of their best. And it is certainly worth the money to see them perform it live.
BE HAPPY (1992)
This is song is not regarded by folks as one of her "classics". But I disagree. I like this record. Mary's work from the early '90s was produced by a young, up and coming artist name Puff Daddy (now known simply as "Diddy). They rocked it on this cut.
YOU DON'T KNOW MY NAME (2003)
This is simply great music. It has this delicious, infectious, neo-soul, 70's sound. Unknown to most, the producer of this awesome tune is Kanye West. Great collaboration.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
And Zaleski has continued to approach life with thoughtfulness we don’t see in many people—let alone reporters.
Having written for Treehugger.com, TheDailyGreen.com, and Eco-Chick.com, and launched Huffington Post Green, Olivia Zaleski has been a serious and tireless proponent of energy efficiency and green living. She’s reported on solar powered eateries, wind turbines made in America, advances in geothermal energy, and unlikely partnerships and alliances between eco-activists and corporations. And in the process, unbeknownst to most, Zaleski has become one of the world’s strongest voices on environmental issues and the need for a green economy—not bad for a 25-year-old.
Her popular do-it-yourself video series, Home Work, has been a runaway hit with consumers because she shows how performing several energy saving tips can qualify them for tax rebates and federal dollars. She’s also host and co-producer of the Emmy-nominated series Business of Green, which examines the nexus of sustainability and business, and profiles the people and firms conceptualizing changes and solutions to increase efficiency and save money.
But this award-winning dynamo is not only well-versed, but also media savvy. She makes regular appearances on ABC’s Good Morning America Now and Discovery Networks’ TreehuggerTV. Her Twitter feed has become a wealth of information for the eco-challenged. And she’s in demand on the lecture circuit, having moderated two blockbuster forums this year: the 2009 Green Travel Summit in Newport Beach, and the Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability Forum in Boulder.
Whether it’s speaking or reporting, Zaleski brings passion and effervescence to her work, as well as a refreshing approach to examining thorny issues. There is not necessarily one side that’s right and one side that’s wrong—for Zaleski, the goal is simply to get us further down the line on one of the defining issues of our time, the creation of a green economy.
Make no mistake about it: this journalist, activist, green living enthusiast and eco-visionary is most certainly a major player, carving out a new niche for the media. It’s a matter of time before she’s a household name.
Monday, August 10, 2009
DON'T STOP 'TIL YOU GET ENOUGH - (1979)
Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough is the first song on Off The Wall, my favorite album of all-time. As a boy, there was no record that came out in 1979 that even came close. I mimicked Jackson's moves in my room mirror, and played the song every day for years. It still rocks!
DON'T DREAM IT'S OVER - (1986)
I remember this song like it was yesterday. The video was very conceptual, and it worked beautifully. It helped make this song a monster hit for the Australian group Crowded House. In fact, I remember the song being used every year in promos for the old Beverly Hills 90210 series of the 90's.
DOO WOP (THAT THING) - (1997)
This hit by Lauren Hill was my favorite song of 1997. In the video, you see the juxtaposition of historical and contemporary hairstyles, clothing, cars, etc. It's the perfect compliment to this hit - one of many awesome tunes from one of the most socially conscious, spiritually uplifting albums ever: The Mis-Education of Lauren Hill.
ME AND MY GANG - (2006)
This song rocks hard! It's from one of my favorite groups, Rascal Flatts. Though classified as a country music song, its sound was universally embraced. Its guitar riffs and lead singer Gary LeVox's soulful voice make it a winner.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Arianna Huffington / @ariannahuff
There is not one list on media professionals that does not include the unflappable Arianna Huffington. In 2005, she started the the Huffington Post. Now, not even 5 years old, it is the gold standard of news sites, and it stands as a great example of the emergence and influence of New Media. In fact, in 2008, she won the prestigious Media Person of the Year.
Ed Schultz / @wegoted
Not only does Ed Schultz have the best show on MSNBC (in my opinion), but he is the most listened-to Progressive radio talk show host in America. His radio show gets an impressive 3-4 million listeners a day. He has been a major voice on health care for decades, and has helped shape public debate on this issue. His MSNBC show is must-see TV! http://www.wegoted.com/
Maegan Carberry / @maegancarberry
Carberry blogs about politics, media and technology. In addition to co-hosting Variety's "Washington & Wilshire" program on Blog Talk Radio, she's managing editor at truuconfessions.com, a microblog where users anonymously share secrets. She also blogs for The Huffington Post...and...once was Ariana Huffington's Chief of Staff. Damn that's hot! http://www.maegancarberry.com/
Rick Sanchez / @ricksanchezcnn
In just a matter of years, Sanchez has become one of the great anchors at CNN. His daily, one hour show during the weekday is an event! He takes on the issues, and the people pontificating about those issues. His show was especially invaluable during the historic Sonia Sotomayor hearings. It's only a matter of time before Sanchez makes the permanent leap to evenings: http://ricksanchez.blogs.cnn.com/
Olivia Zaleski / @oliviazaleski
Zaleski is one of CNN's rising stars, and one of the world's most respected authorities on eco-matters. An engaging and award-winning journalist, Zaleski reports on sustainable business practices and corporate environmentalism. Yes, she's good. In fact, she played an integral part in the formation of Huffingtonpost's GREEN page. Her CNN site rocks with great videos: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/greenbiz/
Carlos Watson / @carloswatson
MSNBC morning anchor and analyst Carlos Watson is a great and refreshing voice on the issues of the day. He is the founder of the hip, red hot news site The Stimulist, which is one of the best news sites to debut in 2009. I expect for Watson to have an evening show on MSNBC in the near future. His daily posts are awesome.
Betty Nguyen / @bettynguyencnn
She brightens up my Saturday and Sunday mornings. But its likely Nguyen will be anchoring at CNN during the weekday in the very near future. She deserves it. Her calm demeanor has been an asset in intense discussions about hot button issues, and was particularly useful when she got into the isolated country of Myanmar - a great assignment that won her major kudos: http://www.facebook.com/BettyNguyenCNN
Antonio Neves /@Reverse7
Neves is the host of MSN's Cool Runnings, an anchor for Advertising Age, and a noted freelance producer and writer. He has created content for BET News, Spike TV, NBC News productions and Nickelodeon, and was also a correspondent for the Macneil/Lehrer News Hour: http://www.antonioneves.net/
Tanya Acker /@Tanyaacker
Acker has been one of my favorite TV pundits for sometime. She had some of the best commentary on Michael Jackson in the aftermath of his passing. She always comes prepared to defend her views, and to shed much needed light on any issue that needs more clarity. She's a popular contributor to the Huffingtonpost, and to Anderson Cooper's 360 Blog.
A popular TV guest, and a contributor to the Daily Beast, Aslan’s voice has been a powerful and consistent regarding the events taking place in Iran this year. His two best-selling books, No god but God and How to Win a Cosmic War, are must-reads! He is Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of BoomGen Studios, the first ever motion picture company focused entirely on entertainment about the Greater Middle East: http://rezaaslan.com/
Monday, August 3, 2009
Since CNN is planning a blockbuster live special on August 6th to grade President Obama's 2nd 100 days, I figured I would weigh in with my own report card. As many of my readers know, I was a volunteer internet strategist for President Obama, and loved every grueling, challenging, sleep-deprived moment. On election night and during the inauguration festivities, I thought to myself: "all of the traveling, e-mailing, phone-banking, and retail politicking had paid off."
Yes, I campaigned vigorously for President Obama, and I like what he's done thus far. This is reflected in my assessment of his first 100 days, which I regard as a smashing success. To paraphrase MTV lingo, yeah baby, the president rocked the house! And make no mistake, he's still riding high in his 2nd 100 days. Though the series of economic challenges (dropped in his lap from his predecessor) has pushed his high marks down a couple of notches.
When my 5 grades below are averaged, it comes out somewhere between an A- and a B+:
THE ECONOMY (Grade: B) - Let's be clear: President Obama inherited a huge mess. The economy was tanking badly upon his arrival. Though there is some light at the end of the tunnel, job losses still persist in many quarters. But it would have been worse without the stimulus. Period. Obama's Stimulus Package helped reduce GDP shrinkage in the third quarter (a great sign for the overall economy). Furthermore, the positive, job creating effects of the Stimulus have been praised by Democratic Governors like Christine Gregoire (WA) and Republican Governors like Jan Brewer (AZ). Even the USA TODAY had an article that examined data that shows how Stimulus cash has lifted Blue & Red States alike, and has offset a major drop in tax collections. Yes, believe the hype: the Stimulus is working. More work has to be done, but things look promising.
DOMESTIC POLICY (Grade: B) - Never in modern history has a president had to grapple with so much, so soon in his first term: soaring foreclosures, high unemployment, extension of unemployment benefits, bank reform, the environmental issues, and now an overhaul of the health care industry. But he's doing a very good job at multi-tasking. He has signed bills on pay equity for women, free health care for 11 million kids, as well as more aid to homeowners trying to modify their mortgages and small businesses trying to stay afloat. I look for green jobs, immigration and gay rights to dominate a lot of his agenda next year.
FOREIGN POLICY (Grade: A-) - Say it loud: "America is back!" It is clear that the global perception of our country has improved greatly. Polls reveal that since Obama's inauguration, America is seen less as "arrogant & self-centered" and more as "thoughtful and conciliatory". President Obama has a great deal to do with this. His visits to Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America have helped tremendously. But the successes are accompanied by two headaches: the regimes of Iran and North Korea. Both countries are experiencing great internal changes that could affect the stability of their regions. Also, another perpetual headache looms: a potential re-escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, particularly if the peace process doesn't resume. But I trust Obama’s diplomatic team, headed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, because they've been great thus far.
OUTREACH TO REPUBLICANS (Grade: A) - As I wrote in late May, Obama has serious Red State credibility. He has Republicans in his Cabinet. He has nominated Republicans to Ambassadorships. He has Republicans like General Colin Powell as unofficial advisors. And lest we forget, President Obama has consistently reached out to Republicans on bill after bill, though the vast majority continues to vote against legislation he champions. Outreach to Republicans may not win his kudos with most of Red State America, but it continues to keep his numbers with independent, politically unaffiliated voters high.
COMMUNICATION (Grade: A) - President Obama has the most well-oiled communications apparatus in the history of American politics. He has made good use of the explosion of the New Media landscape that includes social media giants like Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace. He has also used Old Media more effectively than any president I've ever seen. MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell was right to label him the greatest presidential communicator of the television era. His television speech delivery is smooth and seamless. His town hall meetings are high-energy and his answers are very detailed. He is on message, all of the time, 24/7. If this isn't a blueprint for success, I don't know what is.
Now, let me be clear about some things: I have no illusions about what it's going to take to achieve meaningful change in this country. It is going to be a long hard slog. Yes, it’s going to take serious work, so it makes no sense for citizens, pundits and journalists to apply the "Fast Food" model to expectations about Obama's Presidency. Just because we get chicken mcnuggets in 5 minutes doesn't mean we'll get robust job growth in say, 5 days, or 5 weeks. Things take time.
I do have disagreements with President Obama. However, I'm not in his position, nor am I walking in his well-traveled shoes. He has so much on his plate. With the avalanche of daily hate mail and assasination attempts he and his family get through postal mail, e-mail, and even phone calls, it's a wonder he gets anything done. But he has signed 12 bills in six months, the most by a first term president since FDR in the 1930s. He's been busy.
I'm confident President Obama will turn the economy around, and help us trailblaze new, unseen paths to greatness. Oh the possibilities.