The best comedians have always excelled at mining their own character defects for material. And more often than not, those defects, combined with celebrity excess, have made for some epic fails. Richard Pryor made fun of catching himself on fire while smoking crack. Martin Lawrence turned his own wigged-out weed episodes into stand-up gold. And although Chris Tucker's struggle has been less an indictment against his character than that of his accountant, he hasn't been shy about making his own IRS woes the butt of his jokes since returning to the stage in recent years.
"IRS got me doing the BET Awards, I ain't gon' lie," the Decatur native said during his opening monologue at last night's 2013 BET Awards, filmed in L.A. (See "Host Chris Tucker brings comedy back" above.) "They make me sick. They back there right now counting my money and eating chicken."
Though he still owes the Feds more than $11.5 million in back taxes, his debt with the state of Georgia has reportedly been paid to the tune of $592,594.82 for 2007 and $392,332.16 for 2006.
"Pay your taxes and don't listen to the wrong people," Tucker continued onstage last night. "That's the last time I let Wesley Snipes help me with my taxes. He told me and Ron Isley the same thing."
At least he still has the Midas touch when it comes to picking Hollywood hits. Though he declined to reprise his breakout role as Smokey in what Ice Cube says will be the last of the Friday franchise (Last Friday), his return to the big screen after five years as a supporting character in last year's Academy Award-winning Silver Linings Playbook proved fruitful. Variety recently reported that he's set to executive produce and star in Second Honeymoon, which sounds like one of those romantic comedy/adventure romps, per the description. He reportedly was also up for the lead role in Django, too, if you can imagine that.
As for his current financial status, Tucker suggested that he's reeled in his spending habits now. He even joked of pooling his limited resources with a couple of other Atlantans who've known sweeter times.
"I'm cutting down now. I'm not buying no bunch of stuff. Me, Toni Braxton, and Jermaine Dupri getting an apartment together."
As for the general concensus on his hosting duties and jokey jokes? Well, Twitter went in, as usual, but some showed love:
A "multicultural market researcher" named David Morse wrote a really insulting, bizarre, confusing, racially icky article for Ad Age last week in which he says that, yes, soft drink companies like Coca-Cola have a history of zealously target black and hispanic consumers, BUT those black and hispanic consumers should be happy about it because they're getting attention from a multi-million dollar industry? Something like that. And despite the fact that sugary beverages turn people into fatties.
OR DO THEY?
Apparently, ABC News recently interviewed a former Coca-Cola marketing executive who said he felt bad about targeting teens, blacks, and hispanics for so many years. A current Coca-Cola executive named Katie Bayne, president of sparkling beverages in North America, shot back in a USA Today piece, saying, "there is no scientific evidence" that Coke and other sparkly sugar waters are connected to obesity. She also said that sugary garbage drinks can be part of a healthy diet so long as the calories taken in are being burned off.
No scientific evidence that consumption of soda is connected to obesity? C'man.
Even Morse — who appears to be very much on the soft drink industry's side in the war against soda — points out Bayne's error.
Bayne's nutritional equation might add up, but she is off on her scientific evidence. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control, sugar-sweetened beverages are the primary source of added sugar to the American diet. Yale's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity summarized several studies last year establishing that that African Americans, who are more likely to drink them, are at a higher risk for obesity and related chronic diseases.
As for the insulting, racially icky portion of Morse's presentation ...
In the interest of transparency, let me confess my bias. I've done a lot of work over the years for one of the big soft-drink companies. Let me point out that I've seen that company do a lot to increase consumption of its diet drinks, bottled water, juice and healthy snacks. But let's face it. Hispanics and African Americans are much less interested in diet products. Sugary drinks — often the sweeter the better — do well with them. There are a lot of cultural barriers to getting both these groups to understand the importance of being lean.
Morse continues, "Multicultural marketing is about talking to minorities — or if you prefer, the new mainstream — and representing them, acknowledging them and showing them that you care about their business." That sounds so much more pleasant than targeting and stereotyping.
Here's a window into the mind of pizzaman-turned-presidential candidate-turned-person who won't go away Herman Cain. That's too vague. Here's a commercial commissioned by Herman Cain in which an airborne, CGI bunny gets shot with a skeet gun because that's what taxes are or something. It was almost certainly directed by the person who made Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun" video. Or the opening sequence of "Criss Angel's Mindfreak."
While it was trying to determine which Republican presidential candidate is likely to win delegates in the country's two most backward states, an outfit called Public Policy Polling went ahead and asked Mississippians and Alabamans what they think about the legality of interracial marriage, President Obama's religion, and that Darwin guy.
The results are more frightening than you might've guessed:
• In Mississippi only 12% of GOP voters think Obama's a Christian to 52% who think he's a Muslim and 36% who are not sure.
• In Alabama just 14% think Obama's a Christian to 45% who think he's a Muslim and 41% who aren't sure.
Tellingly, among Mississippi voters who believe the president is devotee of Islam, Newt Gingrich leads the GOP pack with a solid 39 percent.
And where does the theory of evolution stand among Republican voters?
• In Alabama only 26% of voters believe in it, while 60% do not.
• In Mississippi just 22% believe in it, while 66% do not.
Not surprisingly, among the wingnuts who don't believe in natural selection, Santorum and Gingrich are running neck-and-neck for the lead.
So, is there any good news? Kind of… According to PPP:
Alabama's pretty much on board with interracial marriage, with 67% of voters thinking it should be legal to 21% who think it should not be. There's still some skepticism in Mississippi though- only 54% of voters think it should be legal, while 29% believe it should be illegal. Newt cleans up with the 'interracial marriage should be illegal' crowd in both states.
Frankly, instead of spending all this money to build a wall along the Mexican border, how 'bout we build it between us and Alabama?
Word problems are the bane of every child's existence (unless they're NERDS, amirite?). Besides being mathy, the imagined narratives within tend to be stupid and impossible to relate to. As Lisa Kudrow's character puts it in the modern classic Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion, "Like, there's a guy in a rowboat going X miles, and the current is going like, you know, some other miles, and how long does it take him to get to town? It's like, 'Who cares? Who wants to go to town with a guy who drives a rowboat?'"
If educators are going to reach students in the era of video games, the Internet and hula hoops, they have to build their math lessons around topics that really speak to today's youth ... like slavery.
The question read, "Each tree had 56 oranges. If eight slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?"
Another math problem read, "If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in one week?"
Another question asked how many baskets of cotton Frederick filled.
A spokeswoman for the Gwinnett County School District — whose name is Sloan Roach, by the way — explained that the questions were part of a "cross-curricular activity" that would blend math with social studies.
To play devil's advocate here, kids shouldn't be sheltered from the abhorrent aspects of American history — you know what they say about being doomed to repeat history — but it would seem prudent to offer a little context and maybe some degree of gravity. So, yeah, teaching kids to multiply by calculating slave beatings probably isn't the best way to go about it.
At its best, Chick-fil-A's "Eat Mor Chikin" campaign makes us wonder why cows can learn the Roman alphabet, but can't quite figure out how to spell. At its worst, its heavy hooves trample over anyone else's right to use the words "Eat more" — even when it's spelled correctly — in any way, shape or form.
Take Montpelier-based folk artist Bo Muller-Moore, who operates the website eatmorekale.com, on which he sells T-shirts and stickers emblazoned with the "Eat More Kale" logo he designed 11 years ago.
Six years after he began operating the website, Chick-fil-A got on his case, and filed a cease and desist order because eatmorekale.com was too similar to their totally retarded eatmorchikin.com. Muller-Moore refused to stop selling his stickers and T-shirts, but the saga continues. According to Vermont alt-weekly Seven Days, in September, Chick-fil-A used its corporate clout to block Muller-Moore from registering a federal trademark for "Eat More Kale."
Seven Days put the situation into perspective by pointing out that Chick-fil-A has around 1,500 locations, sells 537 chicken sandwiches a minute and reported $3.58 BILLION in sales in 2010. Muller-Moore wouldn't get into numbers, but said he sells "markedly fewer" T-shirts than Chick-fil-A sells sandwiches, and has never made enough money from the website or logo to support himself completely.
"This is legitimate David-versus-Goliath corporate bullying," Muller-Moore told Seven Days. "I'm not a restaurant. I'm not a kale farmer. I'm a T-shirt artist."
REALLY. How big an effect could eatmorekale.com possibly be having on Chick-fil-A's bottom line? Not nearly as much as being closed on Sundays, I'll bet.
See, the party — a costume party, no less — is called "PocaHotAss," which might have been cute and punny if it wasn't for the fact that ONE IN THREE Native American women living on reservations will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes (not to mention that something like 70 percent of those assaults go unsolved).
Duly offended, people from all over the country voiced their distaste for event's name and theme on Bedlam's Facebook page, and even formed a Facebook group called "Offensive Parties Suck!!!!" Dissenters, including Jesse Clark of the Historic District Development Corporation — who said the party "objectifies and mocks the culture of Native American women" — reached out to the promoters, sponsors and, most recently, Mood.
Clark says two sponsors — Whynatte? and Pinnacle Vodka — withdrew their support. Then yesterday evening, after some initial resistance, Bedlam decided to cancel the party.
Barry Brandon, one of Bedlam's promoters, told CL, "The reason we decided to cancel the party is that the saying 'perception is reality' rang true in our heads. You start having people say, 'You don’t get it — this is racist.' And since that’s their perception, then it is."
And it's not the first time one of their costume parties was declared offensive. Brandon says back in March, people freaked when they threw a party called "Derelicte" — the "homeless chic" fashion line from the Ben Stiller movie "Zoolander" — because it was insensitive to the homeless. They didn't cancel that one.
You might think that Kramer's getting caught with a little boy in an out-of-state hotel room would have served to disillusion even his most ardent apologists. Actually, not so much. In fact, the incident has apparently served only to spur a couple of them to revive a moribund blog pithily titled Free Ed.
Here's how they spin his latest run-in with the law:
The concept of a child living in a motel room that also contains an adult is a reasonably common scenario repeated every week in every state in the US. This probably occurred over a million times on different days and different cities in the US last year alone. And there is nothing criminal about it. Even without supporting statistics, anyone would agree it certainly had happened hundreds of thousands of times.
The reasoning for a child being in a motel room can be the parents and friends being on vacation, a state of homelessness requiring temporary shelter, work conditions away from home, or any of many other reasons, none of which are criminal in the least.
Unfortunately, they seem to have forgotten that the object of their rationalizations was under court order to have no contact with minors, since he's supposed to be awaiting trial for allegedly molesting three of them.
Sigh. Anyway, given these folks' chutzpah and logical contortions, I shouldn't be surprised if they were offered jobs as political analysts on Fox News.
A week-long federal jury trial began today to decide whether the owners of Buckhead bar-restaurant Tavern at Phipps discriminated against black customers.
Plaintiffs Joe Barry Carroll, a former NBA star, and Joseph Shaw, claim that they were forced by security to leave the restaurant in Aug. 2006 when they wouldn't give up their seats at the bar to a couple of white women. Their lawyer, human rights attorney Gerry Weber, says that depositions taken from Tavern at Phipps staffers revealed that owner Greg Greenbaum instituted a police called "Southern Hospitality" at the restaurant — which basically meant employees were required to be inhospitable to black people.
Here's Weber's synopsis of the Aug. 2006 incident:
On August 11, 2006, Carroll and African-American attorney Joseph Shaw, visited the Tavern at Phipps after work. They took seats at the bar, and ordered drinks and food.
Shortly thereafter, a bartender approached and requested that they relinquish their seats to two caucasian women. The two men politely declined and resumed with their meals and conversation. Immediately, they were approached by the operating partner and later manager of the Tavern who both demanded that they relinquish their seats.
Carroll and Shaw noted to the Tavern staff and management that none of the white patrons of the bar were being repeatedly asked to give up their seats. No explanation was given for the discriminatory treatment. Rather, the Tavern called their security who arrived in a police uniform and escorted the gentleman out of the restaurant — stating that while Carroll and Shaw were not disruptive, the 'custom' was to give up their seats.
In subsequent interviews and depositions, Weber says employees revealed that Greenbaum's not-so-secret policy — that was seriously called "Southern Hospitality" — prohibited, then limited, the number of black hostesses, cocktail waitresses and bartenders on busy nights; limited blender drinks that he thought would appeal to black people; and intentionally delayed service to black customers.
A former bartender said: “Greg is convinced that blacks in the bar area will ruin his business ... Greg has the ability to determine the differences of his white guests, but to him all Blacks in the bar are bad for business.”
In their lawsuit, Carroll and Shaw are asking for damages and requesting a court order that would prevent racial discrimination in the future.
Check Fresh Loaf for more.
But, how much — if any — of the $35 annual fee for specialty tags actually goes to the organization represented on the plate? That depends.
On the Georgia Department of Revenue's website there's a complete list of plate samples, each of which is accompanied by a breakdown of where the annual fees are going. In most cases, the majority of the money goes not to the cause, but to the state's general treasury. In others, none of the money goes to the sponsoring organization.
Groups including Rotary International, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and the Atlanta Gator Club get no money from the purchase and renewal of their respective specialty tags.
Most groups — Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Choose Life Georgia, the Dog and Cat Sterilization Fund, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Zoo Atlanta, Georgia Sea Turtle Center and the Georgia Aquarium — get just $10 of the $35.
In a very few cases, MOST of the $35 annual fee goes to the cause. For instance, $22 of the $35 renewal fee for a Breast Cancer Awareness tag go toward breast cancer services for indigent women. Share the Road-Bicycle Safety plates contribute $22 of the $35 to the Governor's Highway Safety Program.
(H/T to Fresh Loaf commenter InAtl.)
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