Risk Rap

Rapping About a World at Risk

Toward A New Iconoclasm

Its good to be the King.  When King James ruled England at the dawn of the 17th Century he authored a doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings.  He likened his position as “little Gods on Earth”, who were chosen by Divine Providence to rule and to make the rules.

The current incarnation of King James, in the form of Lebron James also assumes the form of a Little God.  Since the announcement of his free agency status, His Highness has captured the imagination of sports fans, entertainment moguls, broadcast network executives, local businessmen, political leaders and product marketing pros keen to see how the hottest entertainment property in sports maximizes its value by casting his bread upon the waters of free market capitalism.

This marketing juggernaut held the hopes of major metropolitan areas hostage to the idea that King James may anoint their humble cities by moving his throne to one of  their majestic sports palaces.  The hope is that King James and supporting cast will bring an NBA crown to the impoverished masses starved to eat the championship crumbs that fall from His Highness’s banquet table.  It is believed that the Court of King James will establish a home court dynasty, erecting the preeminent Kingdom that will rule over all the lesser fiefdoms of the NBA.

Five cities planned coronation ceremonies for King James but only one city would be able to taste the bread of champions his rule would surely bring to his new kingdom.  That would leave four other cities wanting; condemning them to suffer the hunger of unfulfilled championship dreams they believe only King James can bring to their metropolis.  King James commanded an hour of air time on ESPN to make his royal decree that he would accept Miami’s urgent petition and join The Heat.   King James’ former kingdom, Cleveland suffered the worst of it.  The abdication of their beloved King has shocked this secondary market hamlet into a deep examination of self worth, prompting the fear of deepening economic malaise and a self loathing brought to the surface by the painful rejection by their home town deity.

In a broader sense we should all learn from Cleveland’s experience.  The connection between a human commodity and its consumer is always a tenuous and short lived relationship.  If the consumer can afford the price,  a human commodity will bestow its attention with fealty and reciprocated affection.  America is a highly developed market of  culture consumers.  We invest a great amount of economic and  psychological capital into relationships with media stars, entertainment products and sports heroes.  We confer a royal status upon them.  Our veneration is measured in dollars spent and emotional capital invested.  We believe them to be sacred icons.  Our gleeful consumption of these identity product brands contort and warp our souls.  We begin to believe that they are part of us and construct an existential fantasy that these product brands are actually connected to us.  The sex appeal of Lady GaGa’s consumer fetishism, the nobility of  Sarah Palin’s political opportunism and the dominating machismo of LeBron James supra athleticism are powerful branding conventions.   This radical branding, the brainchild of  handlers and marketing professionals is solely employed to maximize brand value and to move the goods of Me Inc. into the heads and hands of frenzied consumers desperate for an existential connection with something greater then themselves.  The fickleness of consumer capitalism is wholly agnostic.  It never really loves you back.  As a matter of fact it doesn’t love you at all.  Its a cold calculated manufactured creature designed to suggest that its sore purpose in life is to return the love that its user abundantly confers to it. Yet it lasts only until the money runs out.  Its pimp requires these deft street walkers to move on to a new corner where the tricks are more plentiful and bucks much greener.  Ironically free agency begets another type of slavery.  The free agent is shackled to the ball and chain of transactional capitalism.  The soul of the person becomes indistinguishable from that of a soulless corporate entity.  This coalesces perfectly with the Supreme Courts decision to confer the same rights and privileges to corporate entities to finance political candidates.  More and more creeping corporatism is rationalized throughout the body politic as the real bodies and persona’s of persons morph into corporate entities.

The disease is growing too.  In the 3D digital age we deepen these faux connections to our heroes with homey Tweets, real time TMZ coverage, and a befriended status on Facebook.  We get full access to the royal court.  A total submersion within the gone viral digital version of our hero’s carefully constructed virtual world.  We are knighted by the King’s courtesans and receive special discount coupons redeemable at our icon of choice company store.   This special befriended status is good as gold as long as the balance on our credit card doesn’t exceed it limit.

A few years ago Bishop Mark Beckwith delivered a homily on the meaning of icons.   Bishop Beckwith stated that icons were intended to be a prayer aid.  A type of tool constructed of transparent materials so light can filter through them.  This light would reveal an immutable truth  conveyed by the icons subject.  It would remind the prayerful person to emulate the qualities of the figure depicted in the icon.   But that purpose changed and icons came to be understood as objects of  veneration that are endowed with special powers.  Kings and Czars commissioned their finest artisans to create beautiful iconic objects depicting the monarch in communion with saints or apostles to reinforce the idea that divine providence has anointed them to rule the realm.  The common folk and the peasantry would prostrate themselves before the venerated object as the very real presence of a divine sovereign and dutifully pray to it.  A radical transformation occurred and we venerated the object and not the meaning the object was meant to convey.

Thirteen Hundred years ago in Byzantine Constantinople, iconoclasts rose up to smash the graven images of icons within their places of worship.  The icons became venerated objects of debilitating dogma used to control and manipulate people.  We  need to destroy the icons that manipulate and control us.  We must claim back our lives and begin to live more richly and freely by understanding ourselves not as a consumer of things but as a participating person fully engaged in a life that affirms self and service to others.

You Tube Music: Def Jam Icon : Redman vs. Ludacris

Risk; consumer capitalism, alienation, hero worship



July 11, 2010 Posted by | branding, commodities, culture, marketing, product, psychology, reputation, sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Here’s to the Winners

The Black and Blue Division rivals Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions are today’s big match in the NFL. The teams will face off on a frozen Lambeau Field in Green Bay. Though the game has no playoff implications and each team sports a losing record this game is significant because the 0-15 Detroit Lions are desperately trying not to go 0-16. An 0-16 record would place the Lions in the infamous company of the 1976 (0-14) Tampa Bay Buccaneers; the only team in NFL history to have a winless season.

Though its only a game the outcome of this contest has garnered much attention. The game presents some interesting insights into our culture and the role sports have assumed in our society. Today the Detroit Lions quest for imperfection is given a national stage to display a comedic relief of professional ineptitude. This is balanced by the need to avoid the notoriety of shame and dishonor a win less season bestows on tribal pride of the team and its fans.

As a metaphor the ineptitude of the Lions seems to mirror the economic and social distress of the Motor City’s automobile industry. Flush with a $18 bn line of credit from the US Treasury’s coffers, all American’s now have a vested interest in the success and economic viability of our auto manufacturers and we should all be rooting hard for a victory.

So Go Lion’s! We need to see the deliverance and tangible rewards that grit, determination and endurance confers on people that never quit and never give up.

Today we are all Lion’s fans.

You Tube Music Video: NFL Music, Sam Spence, The Linemen

You Tube Video: CBS Pregame 1970: Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions

Risk: perfection, perseverance

December 28, 2008 Posted by | culture, sports | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gangsta Plax

Plaxico Burress is such a bad ass dude that he shot himself in the leg to prove it. Thats hard man, real hard. But I got to tell you, that if dynamite were brains ole Plax wouldn’t have enough to blow himself to Hell and his apparent lack of the gray matter may just have ended his days as a Giant and possibly destroyed his career in the NFL.

Lets back up a minute and try to decipher this story which is as instructive as it is tragic.

Plaxico Burress a very gifted and well paid professional athlete for the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants went to the Latin Quarter, a NY night club on the Friday after Thanksgiving. He was inside the club at 2:00 AM with teammates Antonio Pierce and Ahmad Bradshaw when an illegal hand gun Plax was carrying discharged wounding him in the thigh. Apparently Plax enlisted the help of his teammates, club personnel and the medical staff of the hospital where his wound was treated to cover up the incident to avoid criminal prosecution for carrying an unlicensed illegal hand gun.

Plax a married man in a club at 2:00 AM on the day before a big game with division rival Washington shows poor judgment. Plax said he was carrying a gun because he “wears lots of jewelry and carries lots of money” demonstrates idiocy. Apparently, if someone tries to bum rush Plax he’s fully prepared throw down for his trinkets by engaging in an all out gun battle to defend his street cred and protect his precious bling.

Pretty dumb. Here is a guy who just signed a contract extension at the beginning of the year that will earn him $35 million over the next six years. Evidently Plax was willing to risk his life, professional career and this substantial pay to protect his gold necklace, wristwatch and his fat billfold.

But it doesn’t stop there. Plax is also set on sacrificing the careers of the confederates who helped him cover up his folly. Does Plax care about the well being of his team and his teammates? Does Plax care about the doctor’s career who failed to report his gunshot wound to the police?

More importantly does Plax care or is he even aware of the role illegal hand guns play in the daily carnage of black on black violence that visit the inner cities of our nation almost every day? Will Antonio Pierce do the right thing and tell the truth about what happened? Will AP dare to break the street code of silence that abhors a snitch? I hope he does, not so much for himself but for all the inner city kids that desperately need an example of an upright man that does the right thing. AP needs to stand up, take responsibility for his actions and break the code of silence so that the truth may live. His correct example and proper response may save the life of the next unsuspecting innocent bystander that gets murdered by an errant bullet from a cheap handgun, shot by an idiotic knucklehead for an idiotic and terribly insignificant and misguided reason.

On Sunday I attended a Peace and Unity March in Newark NJ. It was sponsored by the city’s churches and community organizations. One of the themes of the march was to put an end to black on black crime by getting guns off the street. Guns on the streets of Newark take a terrible toll and horribly end the lives of way too many promising youths. Plax should know this and he should coach kids that packin heat don’t make you a man. Being responsible for ones actions and showing gratitude for your abundant gifts by sharing them with others is the real mark of a mature, sober and aware adult.

Plax your time is about up. You can be a really big man by taking responsibility for what you did and make yourself an example for the kids in Newark who desperately want the horror guns bring into their lives to stop. Stand up Plax. Take one for the kids. It may be the greatest catch you’ll ever make for yourself, a community and your battered integrity.

I’ll be praying for you Plax.

You Tube Video:William DeVaughn Be Thankful for What You Got

Risk: guns, urban violence, black on black crime

December 5, 2008 Posted by | community, crime, RnB, sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hockey Mom Takes Center Ice

Did you hear the one about the guy who went a hockey game and a political brawl broke out?

Or did you hear the one about a hockey mom who took center ice to drop the puck and got booed?

Only in Philadelphia, where fans are known to throw snowballs at Santa Claus and burn sacred cows in effigy could this happen and did at last nights season opener for the Flyers. The city of Joe Six Packers have no shame. They will let any less then worthy opponents of their Broad Street Bullies sensibilities know where to stick it at the drop of a hockey puck.

Being from North Jersey I know. My Devils, Mets, Giants, Nets and Knicks have been locked in a life and death struggle with their Philly based conference rivals my entire career as a sports fan. I know the fans from the City of Brotherly Love and they ain’t too friendly to the people they don’t like. Hell, even at Gino’s they won’t even sell you a Philly Cheese Steak if you don’t order it in English. That’s hard man.

So as our First Mom of Hockey came onto the ice to drop the ceremonial first puck at the Flyers season opener a raft of Bronx Cheers (sorry Philly) welled up in the stands. I’m proud of them. The First Hockey Mom even dressed her daughter Piper in a Flyer jersey to provide cover and win sympathy from the hard nosed fans. It didn’t work.

If you live by the hockey stick you lose by the hockey stick. Palin’s cheap attempt to claim the Joe Six Pack hockey vote was penalized by the fans. She was called for high sticking and was sent to the penalty box.

Republicans have politicized religion, science and education. We draw the line at center ice. Vote no to the republican control of the NHL!

Rocky! Rocky! Rocky!

I hope the Phillies go all the way.

Music Video: Rocky Theme

Risk: politicalization of hockey

October 12, 2008 Posted by | community, culture, Palin, soundtrack, sports | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment