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Sound of Young America Fan Art

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Kelly was nice enought to send me this picture she painted from the intro segment of the Python video.

Although it was the Monty Python podcast that inspired me, I was listening to the podcast about the future as I painted. I guess I was thinking in the future everything green would become red. I think I might title it something like "The Grass Isn't Always Greener...."

Thanks, Kelly!

If you have any artwork inspired by the show, send it in!

Even if you've just got a thought to share, please share it. And remember that we've got voicemail, now, too... 206-984-4FUN

We talk real funny 'round here...

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On this week's Sound of Young America, I made a difficult snap decision to let Nick Adams say "the N-word." It's the focus of a full chapter of his book, and having given the audience fair warning, it seemed only reasonable to me.

I let the word through once before on The Sound, and that was when I played Randy Newman's song "Rednecks." I got a call in the studio afterwards, from someone who was quite upset about it. I talked with the guy (who was black, and had tuned in after the warning I'd offered before playing the song) for a few minutes, and helped him understand the satirical thrust of the song, and he reconsidered his stance.

In my book, "Rednecks" is one of the most biting pieces of racial satire in the late 20th century, and maybe the single best to come from a white person. But it does use the n-word, and repeatedly so (see the lyrics at the bottom of the post).

Randy Newman approaches songwriting as a short-story writer would approach a short story -- the authorial voice is by no means direct. In "Rednecks," he writes from the perspective of a salt-of-the-earth Southern racist. He said he wrote the song after he saw Lester Maddox, the infamous segregationist, being ridiculed on a network talk show, and imagine himself in the place of someone who agreed with Maddox, rather than someone who was sympatico with the host & audience.

As the song unfolds, Newman invites us to be scornful of his narrator. Indeed, the narrator seems to invite the scorn almost upon himself.

But as the pile of scorn gets higher and higher, it starts to get unmanagable. In the second verse, the harshness is getting broader, and it starts to make the listener uncomfortable. The only saving grace is that chorus -- and specifically, that use of the n-word. In fact, that use of the n-word makes us, particularly if we're white northern sophisticate types, more, and not less comfortable with the song.

In the third and final verse of the song, Newman springs his trap:

Now your northern nigger's a Negro
You see he's got his dignity
Down here we're too ignorant to realize
That the North has set the nigger free

As he tumbles into a list of Northern ghettos, we listeners start to realize that this isn't a satire of dumb racist southerners. Instead, this is a satire of arrogant, intellectual, liberal northerners. And because of the structure of the song, we the listeners are implicated in all of this -- we're the ones he's talking about. All the smugness we felt as we laughed at lines like, "he may be a fool, but he's our fool" is now turned against us.

In that final vamp, it becomes an indictment of the listener, and of one of the great race issues that white people hate to acknowledge... that racism isn't solved by our liberal platitudes, and it isn't everyone else's problem. Racism isn't something that happens "over there," and it isn't caused by "them." We can't get out from under the responsibility that easily.

Last night I saw Lester Maddox on a TV show
With some smart ass New York Jew
And the Jew laughed at Lester Maddox
And the audience laughed at Lester Maddox too
Well he may be a fool but he's our fool
If they think they're better than him they're wrong
So I went to the park and I took some paper along
And that's where I made this song

We talk real funny down here
We drink too much and we laugh too loud
We're too dumb to make it in no Northern town
And we're keepin' the niggers down

We got no-necked oilmen from Texas
And good ol' boys from Tennessee
And colleges men from LSU
Went in dumb. Come out dumb too
Hustlin' 'round Atlanta in their alligator shoes
Gettin' drunk every weekend at the barbecues
And they're keepin' the niggers down

CHORUS
We're rednecks, rednecks
And we don't know our ass from a hole in the ground
We're rednecks, we're rednecks
And we're keeping the niggers down

Now your northern nigger's a Negro
You see he's got his dignity
Down here we're too ignorant to realize
That the North has set the nigger free

Yes he's free to be put in a cage
In Harlem in New York City
And he's free to be put in a cage on the South-Side of Chicago
And the West-Side
And he's free to be put in a cage in Hough in Cleveland
And he's free to be put in a cage in East St. Louis
And he's free to be put in a cage in Fillmore in San Francisco
And he's free to be put in a cage in Roxbury in Boston
They're gatherin' 'em up from miles around
Keepin' the niggers down

CHORUS

Andy Kindler rips into South Park

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Over at aspecialthing.com, TSOYA pal Andy Kindler ripped into Trey Parker & Matt Stone...

I can't figure out what's more offensive, Scientology or South Park. I can't believe people still think these guys are geniuses. Remember Baseketball? The greatest thing they ever did was dress up like women for the Oscars? Wow that was original. The Comedy Team of Over and Rated. Laurel and Hacky. Dressing up like women? That's crazy. That's off the hook. And who can sit through South Park? The animation is horrible. I know. It's supposed to be. Great. Their voices are horrible. Every time I try to watch an episode my head hurts from how unfunny it is. I'm not saying they have never been funny, but close. They have made me laugh for a total of 45 seconds. If that interview is indicative of anything, it's how boring and ignorant and personally repulsive they are. Really? Things aren't so bad with George W. Bush. You would have to be a cretin or a right wing ideologue or George W. Bush at this point to believe this. Stop driveling. Maybe he should stop pretending to read about World War II and read a newspaper from today.

And try this one on for size, responding in part to this interview in GQ:

But sometimes things reach a critical mass, and the more you learn about people, the less you can like them. I just reread that interview and got more annoyed. Calling Paris Hilton an ugly stupid whore? They are really edgy. Who are they going to go after next? Michael Jackson? And he just realized that Paris Hilton was a model? And he's concerned about the kids all of a sudden? And then they put down Rob Reiner for taxing cigarettes by saying hey dude, let people have cigarettes. Rob Reiner taxing cigarettes is exactly the opposite of not letting people have cigarettes. He's not saying you can't smoke. He's just saying tax it more. Agree or don't agree, but at least be coherent enough to understand the point you're making. I think all drugs should be legal, and they should also be taxed. See how easy that was? If he's so concerned about people having enough money to buy cigarettes, he should start his own cigarette smoking charity fund for poor smokers. But that would be too "liberal" for him. They claim to be against Reiner because he's a rich guy from Malibu. Where do they live? The Pacific Palisades? And they think they're libertarian because they're cool with "gays." I'm sure the "gays" are thrilled. Holy Moly. I'm sorry, but these guys are just plain ignorant.

Is Andy right, or is he just hating on their game? Your thoughts?

Andy Kindler on The Sound of Young America

Snakes on a Plane official trailer...

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Now normally, I'm against internet meme BS. Actively against it.

But I gotta admit, the whole Snakes on a Plane thing has me hooked. Now there's an official trailer:

The New Sincerity and The New Journalism

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I always knew Literary Dandy Tom Wolfe was New Sincerity, but boy howdy, I didn't know HOW New Sincerity he was!

Mr. Castro also suggested covering the white floor mats with clear vinyl to keep them clean. Mr. Wolfe was delighted with this effect, which he compares to leaving the plastic on a new sofa. "It's not worth pimping out a car unless it has something a little tacky," Mr. Wolfe said. "You have to suffer for style."

Tom Wolfe Pimps His Ride

Jesse and Dino Are Nerds

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I recorded the interviews for this week's show yesterday. I had to get up early to interview Terry Jones of Monty Python (not that I was complaining). Later in the day, I interviewed Dino Stamatopoulos.

Dino is a real comedy nerd hero, but we bonded over our shared Python nerdiness. It won't end up on the air, and it's only like two minutes, but I thought I'd share it here. Dino met Jones when he was a guest on Conan, and talks a bit about the hilarious book he was promoting.

Bob Edwards in Newsweek

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Bob Edwards' XM radio show is being repackaged and distributed by Public Radio International to public radio stations as "Bob Edwards Weekend." It's the first show to move from satellite to terrestrial radio.

I'm happy for him. I get the feeling NPR knows they kind of screwed him when he was dropped from Morning Edition, and they still haven't been able to replace his warmth and gravitas.

Edwards came on The Sound in August, and was absolutely wonderful. He won my heart by saying that his favorite interview subject of all time was Randy Newman.

I will, however, say that he won't get far with me complaining about only having eight producers... I don't have anyone, and I have a full-time job!

Bob Edwards interview in Newsweek

Bob Edwards on The Sound of Young America (MP3 Link)

Andy Dick & Dino Stamatopoulos

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One of our guests on the next Sound of Young America is Dino Stamatopoulos, a comedy writer who's written for many of the greatest TV comedy shows of the past 15 years.

As an introduction to Dino's work, I thought I'd share this video of him performing live a year or so ago with his former comedy partner, Andy Dick. Remember that this is live television.

A Night at the Wire

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If you ask me, The Wire is the best show on television. It's so astonishingly well written that I almost can't believe it's a TV show. It packs all the wallop of a movie, but it takes advantage of the unique nature of episodic television.

Anyway, HBO is hosting a benefit March 25th for The Ella Fund, a Baltimore children's charity, at the show's soundstage in B-more. For more information, or tickets, visit this page. If you don't live in the area, you can also bid on autographed "business cards" from the show.

And when The Wire comes back to HBO later this year, I promise to try really, really hard to get creator David Simon on The Sound. Or maybe producer/writer George Pelecanos, whose wonderful mysteries set in our nation's capital I reccomend highly.

Ms. New Booty

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I posted about Bubba Sparxxx last week... his new single with the Ying Yang Twins, "Ms. New Booty" is shooting up the charts right now. The record company is also running a booty-intensive participatory website.

Tara Henley has some interesting thoughts on the whole thing on XXL.com:

9. If you’re mad at “Ms. New Booty,” it’s worth remembering that we’re all partially to blame—since Deliverance was a stirring, soul-searching work of art and no one bothered to buy it.

I'm still deciding on the song... on the one hand, I find it morally questionable. On the other hand, it gives me the urge to yell: "BOOTYBOOTYBOOTYBOOTY ROCKIN EVERYWHEYAH!" and that can't be all bad.

Also: at one point, of the Ying-Yang Twins has a couple that goes... "Sippin' on Petron... GLUG GLUG GLUG / Shortie's in a thong... WOAH WOAH WOAH," which is pretty f'ing hilarious. And I hate the YYTs.

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