Monday, November 28, 2011

A December...to remember?

I'm pissed. Aside from the economic crisis, protestors getting the crap beat out of them, getting through the everyday tasks that now seem ten times harder because of the impending doom of winter, I now have to deal with the reminder that Christmas is coming. Soon.

Actually, this reminder was already being forced down my throat right around Halloween. The costumes had barely gone on sale when the entire obnoxious Christmas display went up at my local Walgreens.

Soon after came the Macy's window display, followed by the official lighting of the Christmas (not holiday) tree at Daley Plaza. That was all before Thanksgiving, mind you.

Then of course came Black Friday, where bleary eyed, semi conscious nutjobs trampled over each other to fight for the latest electronics and unnecessary shit their kids will probably play with once and toss aside. Alas, the official inauguration of Christmas season. And it's not even December.

I get it. I understand the need for retailers to turn a profit. But, really, Lexus?? With about 49 million Americans presently unemployed, I find it incredibly hard to believe that most people could afford such a lavish gift. Yet the commercials come on, over and over again. Way to make me feel bad about getting my dad a gotdamn pair of socks this year.

What I find so aggravating is all of this commerciality has taken away from the true meaning of the holiday. You know, the feeling you get when you sit back on your couch and bask in the glow of your newly decorated tree. The look on a person's face when they see a loved one at an airport arrival gate. Even the familiar sound of the Salvation Army bell.

I'm not saying you should dress up as an elf and turn up at someone's doorstep ready to carol. I'm saying...instead of losing patience, getting aggravated, and treating Christmas like it's something that needs to be over with, let's focus on what we have to be thankful for.

And if you need a carton of egg nog to help you do that, by all means.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Hip hop, ya don't stop

Hearing about Heavy D's passing today brought me back.

I was 13 yrs old when I learned about hip hop. I wasn't raised in the hood and didn't get a chance to listen to it sitting on someone's front steps. I learned about it when I got my first computer, subscribing to one of the initial online services called Prodigy Internet. In sifting through numbers of chat rooms, I found one that was centered around hip hop. I clicked to enter.

People of all ages were there. Men, women alike. East coast, west coast, down south, midwest, Canada. They talked about the genre's origin (South Bronx), the four pillars (emceeing, djing, grafitti and break dancing), and artists like Eric B. and Rakim, KRS-ONE, and A Tribe Called Quest. I heard joints like Microphone Fiend, Rapper's Delight and Bonita Applebum.

I was a novice, so I sat back and took it all in. Once I felt more comfortable, I asked questions. Why that sample? Why that beat? It was like a family in a way; the older 'vets', a fresh group of guys who called themselves Lyrical Militia, sassy females that spat out rhymes better than some of the men, and me. A Polish American teen bobbing her head to music people in my neighborhood had no idea about.

I bought my very first hip hop cd and it was Enter the Wutang (36 Chambers). I cranked Bring Da Ruckus, and my parents thought I had lost my mind.

From there came bulletin boards to post raps on, and wav files that were recorded on the spot. The words were passionate; about struggle, love, life.

In the meantime, more artists emerged and among them the one I most admired; Biggie. He pounded out rhymes so quickly and smoothly, I was immediately hooked.

I was also able to appreciate the talents of Jurassic 5, Nas, De La Soul, Blackalicious, Company Flow, Lauryn Hill and a number of others.

For nearly 4 years like clockwork, I closed my bedroom door at 7pm and went to go chat with my friends. Although the majority of us never actually met in person, that's what we really were. And no matter what we were experiencing and where we were, we knew two things.

We had music, and we had each other.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Polish joke, anyone?

(CNN) -- A Boeing 767 on a flight from Newark, New Jersey, made a dramatic emergency landing at Warsaw, Poland's Frederic Chopin International airport Tuesday after problems with its landing gear, an airport spokeswoman said.

All the passengers on the flight, from Newark Liberty International Airport to Warsaw, are safe and uninjured, she told CNN. Newark Liberty serves the greater New York area.

The LOT Polish Airlines flight, which had been due to land at 1:35 p.m. local time, circled above the airport for an hour before coming down in a belly landing at 2:40, she said.

"After noticing a central hydraulic system failure the standard procedure for emergency landings at Warsaw airport were implemented," LOT said in a statement, saying emergency crews were in place on the ground to assist.

Video footage from the scene showed the plane coming in to land without its wheels down and skidding along the tarmac to a halt. Emergency vehicles raced toward the aircraft and appeared to hose it down as passengers disembarked.

There were 231 people aboard the flight, 220 of them passengers and 11 crew, the airline said.

The passengers "stayed calm" during the emergency landing, and after reaching the terminal were cared for by support staff and psychologists, the airline said.

They are being allowed to go home after a medical examination and a brief police interview, it added.

Other travelers face significant disruption.

The airport will remain closed until at least 8 a.m. local time Wednesday because the damaged aircraft is blocking the runways, an airport spokesman told reporters.

LOT said all its flights scheduled to leave later Tuesday have been canceled. Incoming flights have been redirected to other airports in Poland, it said, and passengers will be brought from there to Warsaw.

The airport is Poland's busiest, handling almost half its air passenger traffic with about 100 scheduled flights a day, the airport's website says.

LOT, the Polish flag carrier and one of the world's oldest airlines, is currently offering special deals on flights from the New York area to Warsaw.

In 2010, it carried more than 4.5 million passengers, nearly three-quarters of whom were on international flights, its website says. The airline said it aims to offer quality of service and value for money.