Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Bearded Dragons — 7 Cool Facts About Pet Reptiles




Learn seven cool facts about bearded dragons from reptile and amphibian expert Jungle Bob in this Howcast video.

7 Cool Facts about Bearded Dragons | Pet Reptiles

When we think of the continent of Australia, we think of unusual animals right away, from kangaroos to platypuses to wallabies. They're all over there in Australia, it seems. But there are some that are not that unusual, just fantastic creatures. And one of them is the Pogona Vitticeps, the Bearded Dragon. There's a number of different species in Australia, but the popular one is the dragon you see in front of you here, that has dominated the pet world now for the last 20 to 25 years.

In their native Australia, they're inquisitive creatures that easily inhabit areas where people are. They like to climb fence posts and look out to see what's going on. Males will dominate a territory and have multiple females as mates. And they're prolific breeders. They have up to 20 eggs at a time and they dominate the landscape they come from.

They're quick when they have to be to escape predators. They're extremely fast runners. For the most part, they're kind of sit there and look out and see what's going on animals in the wild. They're very fun and animated to watch.

They'll eat a variety of things from insects to greens to small pieces of meat, such as rodents. Bearded Dragons are largely protected now in their native Australia. They're no longer exported, which is very good. Thank you, Australia, for allowing us to have some of them. But because of their prolific nature, they are no longer hunted there and they're free to multiply and grow in Australia without any danger of being threatened by the pet trade or by confiscation.


The Bearded Dragon gets his name, as you can see, the big male here is going to get a little territorial. First he gets up on his front limbs. And if he gets really agitated with the smaller one in front of him, he'll do two things. First, he'll start bobbing his head up and down to say, "I'm the biggest dragon in this area, so back off." And if that doesn't work, he actually throws out his throat. It turns black and he puffs it out. It looks like a big black beard. And that's where the animal gets his name.

The Bearded Dragon will do that every time an animal is reintroduced into its area. If he wants to threaten it, he will throw that beard out. Sometimes in captivity they don't bother doing it anymore because they're so docile by nature and he knows this other dragon, so he's not really doing it at this moment.

But two males together, one will dominate the other. He'll say, "I'm the biggest dragon here." If the other one is of equal size and equal temperament, they will fight. If not, the smaller one actually submits. And what they do is take their arm and they move it ever so slowly in a counter clockwise direction and the larger dragon will understand that that's like a person saying, "Don't hit me." He puts his hands up and says, "I don't want to fight."

So, they work things out together in nature. In nature, of course, they can disappear and run in different areas. In a captive environment, they have to have that submissive language going back and forth between them in order to avoid fights in captivity. The Bearded Dragon, an Australian treasure for sure.

Jordan "Mission Impossible" Kilganon Shuts Down Rucker Park



Here is 6'1 Jordan Kilganon shutting down Rucker Park tonight. He finished the show off with a dunk he created over a year ago by jumping over a guy in a chair.



Jordan Kilganon Shuts Down Rucker By Dunking Over Man Standing On Chair

There’s a new, worthy opponent in the seemingly never-ending competition for the summer’s best dunk performance: Jordan Kilganon. The 6-1 high-flyer showed off his crazy hops with an array of jaw-dropping slams at New York City’s Rucker Park last night. There have obviously been some epic dunking moments on those hallowed grounds, but Kilganon’s exhibition just might be Rucker’s best – ever.


“He ain’t even stretch doe!”
Kilganon’s most impressive jam? The one where he casually jumped over a man standing on a chair before finishing with a powerful reverse.

We’re still partial to Zach LaVine’s incredible series of slams at the Seattle Pro-Am on the whole, but Kilganon’s dunk above might be the summer’s individual best. Insane. — Jack Winter | DIME

Jordan Kilganon — Professional Freestyle Dunker

1st place in Toronto's Sprite Slam Dunk Showdown 2012
2nd place in Philly's Sprite Slam Dunk Showdown 2012
1st place in Humber's 3 on 3 Dunk contest 2012
1st place in Philly's Sprite Slam Dunk contest 2013

"Shady XV" Album Review & FREE Full-Album Stream

Marshall Mathers disclosing artwork for his Shady XV compilation via Instagram

Eminem Celebrates 15 Years Of Lyrical Supremacy On 'Shady XV' (Album Review)


CLEVELAND, Ohio – Eminem's Shady Records has changed a lot in 15 years.

With 50 Cent gone and Eminem performing on a limited basis, the label no longer houses the two biggest hip-hop acts in the world. But Eminem no longer cares about that.

His label now serves a talent den for some of hip-hop's most lyrically gifted emcees, something the new compilation, "Shady XV," makes a clear point of emphasizing.

The compilation features one disc of new material and one disc of greatest hits. The latter offers a Spotify-esque playlist with all the Eminem, 50 Cent and D12 tracks you can handle. There's also a nostalgic demo version of "Lose Yourself."


But it's the original material that really stands out. Slaughterhouse (Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz, Crooked I and Royce da 5'9") throws lyrical darts on the DJ Premier-produced "Y'all Ready Know," while Yelawolf brings an abundance of energy to his solo-cut "Down." The latter's haunting bonus cut, "Till It's Gone," is even better.

Both Crooked I and Royce da 5'9" go hard over the ferocious "Psychopath Killer," as Crooked professes, "I don't need heaters, I got the meat clever." But neither Slaughterhouse member or anyone else on "Shady XV" can hold a candle to Eminem and his unhinged rhymes ("Probably shouldn't have ran up in the Vatican with that mannequin, singing 'Bagpipes from Baghdad' again").

"Shady XV" album cover

Eminem offers a verbal display like no other, going in full lyrical gymnastics mode on songs like "Vegas" and the big-beat title-track: "So whether you're hip-hop, Slipknot, B.I.G., Pac, Kid Rock, Kriss Kross, Rick Ross, you'll dig this/If not then kick rocks in flip flops." On and on he goes.

Wisely, Marshall dials things back for the album's more radio-worthy cuts. On "Die Alone," singer Kobe caps off Eminem's introspective rhymes with a catchy hook. And the brilliance of "Guts Over Fear," the album's lead single, lies mostly in Sia's soaring hook.

"Shady XV" does have a few duds. D12's "Bane" serves as nothing more than filler, while Skylar Grey's "Twisted" further proves why the singer has never quite measured up to the success of her label mates.

Thankfully, Eminem is around to save the day. The label boss wraps things with "Detroit Vs. Everybody," a tremendous posse cut featuring great verses from guests Big Sean, Royce da 5'9" and Danny Brown.
'F*ck the world!'

"Detroit Vs. Everybody" not only reminds us just how far Eminem has come, but it also demonstrates how he has elevated Detroit's status as a hip-hop hotbed. Rumor has it that Los Angeles and New York emcees are plotting responses to "Vs. Everybody." Eminem is the reason they may want to think twice about it. — Troy L. Smith, Northeast Ohio Media Group | Cleveland | Grade: B+ 

 •   •   •
Compilation album / Greatest hits by Shady Records
Release Date:
November 24th, 2014

Stream Eminem's "Shady XV" Compilation Album


After a steady amount of promo, which included an intense all-Shady rap battle cypher, Eminem's new compilation album, Shady XV, is finally in stores and available to stream on Spotify. The project, which features one disc of all new material that you can stream below and one disc of the label's greatest hits, was originally announced earlier this year following the trailer for Denzel Washington's movie, The Equalizer, that used Em's track, "Guts Over Fear."

In total, the CD with all new material features 12 songs with appearances from Yelawolf, Big Sean, all four members of Slaughterhouse, and more, while the second CD includes some of Shady Records biggest hits, like 50 Cent's "I Get Money," and more. The compilation album is currently available for purchase on iTunes and can be streamed in full below. — Zach Frydenlund | Complex


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Rucker Park Legacy


In the summer of 2003, the Entertainers Basketball Classic (EBC) in Harlem New York took the nation by storm, and put the world of streetball on notice. Bringing the biggest stars of Hip-Hop, sports and politics together in one place. Highlighted by Hip-Hop rivals Jay-Z and Fat Joe along with their star studded teams, EBC was set to have the most anticipated championship in streetball history.

Thousands filled the street of Harlem, and with standing room at Rucker Park the lights went out ,and never came back on. The largest blackout in U.S history crippled Manhattan and EBC championship game. The Blackout sorts though the gossip,rumors and urban legends as it turns the lights back on at Rucker Park and retells the story of the biggest streetball game that never was.


Shot by @freshfocusnyc ... In KD's first ever visit to Rucker Park, Kevin Durant scored 66 points. This unedited sequence is 4 straight three pointers.

Jump Ball: Rucker Park, Hip-Hop & A Tangled Legacy


Think of an art form where disenfranchised black youths battle each other, using their creativity as their greatest weapon, freestyling and attempting to embarrass one another with distinct techniques, yet ultimately leaving it up to the crowd to decide whom the people’s choice is. It’s an alternative to street life and, with enough luck and skill, can prove lucrative to those that work hard at it. It might even gain the artists fame in their neighborhood. It may sound like hip-hop, which we’ll get to in a second, but we’re talking about street ball.

New York is the mecca of street ball. Whether it’s Brooklyn’s Soul in the Hole or The Cage in Greenwich Village, there are more bustling ball courts in NYC than you can Harlem Shake at, but, without a doubt, Rucker Park takes the cake. Known around the world for being a hub of top talent, the Uptown house that a Parks & Recreation employee built is still known to this day as the epicenter of the street ball universe.

It shouldn’t be any surprise then that hip-hop and Rucker Park have constantly crossed paths throughout the years. Never meant to be corporate, rap and street ball were both outlets for troubled kids to prove their genius amongst familiar faces. That’s what Holcombe Rucker set out to provide when he started the Rucker Tournament in the 1940s, hopping from court to court until it permanently landed on 155th Street, nestled between Frederick Douglass Boulevard and the Harlem River Drive, where it remains to this day. It would become the home of the Entertainment Basketball Classic (EBC), whose first game, though not at Rucker, was in 1982 between two rap squads: the Disco 4 and The Crash Crew. Mr. Magic even announced the game during his show on the radio (conflicting myths claim that the Crash Crew themselves issued a challenge live on-air). Groups like the Sugarhill Gang and Cold Crush showed up to 120th St. and Madison Avenue to spectate. Crash Crew got blown out by almost 60 points, but at least they still had ‘High Powered Rap,’ and so the marriage of basketball and rap began.


When the EBC expanded to Rucker Park in the late ’80s, it took not only its talented street ballers with it, but its animated emcees, too. Legends like Boobie Smith, Honorable Hannibal, Al Cash, and Duke “Tango” Mills weren’t rappers, per se, but they brought their own comedic showmanship to the park and helped move the crowd just like any musician or baller could. They were, according to Vincent Mallozzi, author of “Asphalt Gods: An Oral History of the Rucker Tournament,” “half Marv Albert, half Jay Z.”

Just across from the Harlem River, less than two miles away, sat 120 Sedgwick Avenue, commonly known now as the birthplace of hip-hop. August 11, 1973 is inscribed in the history books as the date that Kool DJ Herc extended a drum break and began talking over it in his building’s rec room. Those kinds of parties would soon grow legs and walk outside into parks, plazas, and any open space that had a lamppost with an outlet. Hip-hop, like street ball, was an escape, a diversion from a life of crime, drugs, and downright depression for many trapped in poverty’s cycle.

Since the ’50s, Rucker Park had always attracted high-flying talent. Everyone from Wilt Chamberlain to Julius “Dr. J” Erving graced the pavement, and the park eventually became fertile ground for scouts to observe potential prospects. It would also prove to be something of a platform for broken dreams, as many players peaked at Rucker without ever seeing the NBA hardwood.


Footage of Julius Erving at Harlem's famed Rucker Park from NBA TV's The Doctor.

The park hit a rough patch in the mid-80s, suffering from lack of funds. Greg Marius, original Disco 4 member and founder of the EBC, managed to reenergize the place, however, when NBA All-Star Dominique Wilkins judged a slam-dunk competition in 1987.

By the early ’90s, companies began to realize the marketing and promotional opportunities that Rucker Park and the EBC offered. Rucker was unlike any other street ball court in the world, and Marius understood. In Asphalt Gods, he explains:

“People kept telling me that if I wanted to be successful, I had to have a tournament like the one on West Fourth Street, where the games are very closely officiated. But I let the guys playing in my league do all the stuff they wanted to do out there with the basketball, like the fancy dribbling, for the sake of entertainment.”

Marius was also beginning to see how hip-hop could help support Rucker Park, and vice versa.

The EBC head knew that it was more than just the sport itself that drew unusually large crowds. It was the lack of rules and the total freedom that a player felt when they stepped on that court and knew that they were around likeminded people. Like hip-hop, street ball at the Rucker said, “fuck the rules,” not only because it was entertaining, but because it was revolutionary. The stiff, indoors ball that many traditionalist played was all about squaring up and shooting. It was slow. The basketball that blacks played at Rucker, though? Run and gun. Flashy. High octane. Electrifying.

Community also played a vital role in both street ball and hip-hop culture. Seminal groups like Public Enemy and Boogie Down Productions felt a responsibility to speak for those who would never be heard. Hip-hop’s pioneers also never failed to tip their hats to black music legends that preceded them; Afrika Bambaataa even recorded “Unity” with the Godfather of Soul himself, James Brown. Holcombe Rucker and Greg Marius both understood that basketball was more than just a game; it was something that kids could get passionate about. Marius shared the respect for tradition by refusing to charge onlookers even as he began to funnel money into massive renovations of Rucker Park. “Our fans don’t pay. That’s a park tradition,” he said. “It’s a community thing.”

Puff Daddy had been a part of that same community for some time. He grew up on 145th St. and Lenox and was going to ball games over at Rucker before he even dabbled in hip-hop. “I just think that it’s such an incredibly positive thing for the neighborhood,” he told Mallozzi. “Up there, people are yearning for positive recreation. Not all of them have such easy lives, and this makes their lives a little happier.”

When he formed his label, Bad Boy Entertainment, Puffy was one of, if not the first hip-hop industry figure to become a regular presence at 155th Street. He roped in major talent like young NBA stars Ron Artest and Joe Smith and sponsored his own Bad Boy team. He’s seen sitting next to Jay Z in the documentary “The Blackout: Fat Joe vs. Jay-Z At The Rucker.” He even persuaded Allen Iverson and Stephon Marbury to play for Bad Boy in June 1996, but Kareem Reid, better known as Best Kept Secret, hit a game-winning jumper to defeat the loaded team.

In that “Blackout” documentary, LL Cool J tells a reporter that he’s there to support the Def Jam team as they play against the So So Def squad. Record labels were realizing they if they slapped their name on a jersey or if an artist performed at the Rucker, the advantage was twofold: crossover exposure in a sports market and genuine street credibility.


The legendary Rucker Park experienced its most exciting summer in 2003, when hip-hop mogul Jay-Z bought his team of NBA superstars to dethrone the reigning champs, Terror Squad, lead by rapper and CEO Fat Joe. The stories from that summer still are talked about till this day but the one question everyone always asks is if the Blackout didn't happen who would've won?

In the summer of 2003, though, Jay Z stormed the court in search of reign. Known for his ever-prescient marketing abilities, Jigga masterminded an expansive campaign that included his new S. Carter shoes with Reebok (don’t forget that commercial), the 40/40 nightclub, and his “final” album before “retirement,” The Black Album, scheduled for the fall. Seeing how Fat Joe, Diddy and Ja Rule had teams, Hov figured that he was also fit to manage his own squad, and he immediately began building, what else, a dynasty.

He poached street ball all-stars like the late John “Franchise” Strickland and Reggie Freeman. Jay’s name alone sent them running from wherever they were posted to join the S. Carter team. Then he reached out to NBA hot shots like Lamar Odom, Tracy McGrady, Antoine Walker, and later Jamal Crawford, Eddy Curry, Kenyon Martin, and local high school star, Sebastian Telfair. To put the icing on the cake, he had a certain 17-year old tag along to games and sit on the sidelines: Lebron James, fresh off his 90 million dollar Nike deal. King James was yet to sign with the Cavs and wasn’t confirmed to play for Jay Z, but his presence next to the Roc-A-Fella don lent an air of royalty to the team, and it generated tons of buzz.

There was nothing tangible in it for Jay Z, no trophy, no televised event, no prize money, though he had commissioned Fab 5 Freddy to film the entire season and make it into a documentary, assuming they would win the championship. Jay knew how cutting-edge every facet of his marketing strategy was. He even slapped a huge picture of his Reebok shoe onto a bus that the S. Carter players would ride up from midtown to Rucker for every game. It was his ability to garner attention that was important; for certain games he even flew back to New York from Roc The Mic tour dates around the nation just to be present. That’s how much import he gave to his own physical presence, and he ended up being right.

In “Blackout”, the connection between rap and Rucker couldn’t be more obvious. During one game, Franchise dishes a ridiculous pass to Smush Parker at the rim, but Smush flubs the dunk. During a timeout (which you can see in this clip), Franchise reams him out, “Finish your breakfast, Smush! Finish your fuckin’ breakfast!” You can see Jay laughing in the background of the video, and a couple weeks later he called Strickland to tell him he’d made the album (you’ll recall Jay rhyming “I check cheddar like a food inspector / My homie Strick told me, “Dude, finish your breakfast” on “P.S.A.”).

D-Stern, 'TS baby!'
Before Jay’z run at the Chip, Fat Joe was the king of Rucker in the early aughts. His squad dethroned Irv Gotti’s team in 2002 to become the crew to beat, with players like Stephon Marbury, Al Harrington, and Alimoe. Bill Clinton and David Stern even came to one of his games, and at the end Stern sported Joe’s Terror Squad chain around his neck. As the two most noted teams in the league, Fat Joe and Jay seemed like they were destined to clash in the championship.

A couple background issues also made tension bubble right beneath the surface between Jay and Joe during the ’03 season. For years there had been rumors that Pun and Hov got into it at a club one night in New York, though former TS Member Cuban Link later cleared that story up. There was also Hov’s right-hand rhyme partner Sauce Money dissing Pun that led to Whoo Kid getting an uzi pulled out on him. Finally, earlier in 2003, Jay had mentioned Fat Joe’s player Stephon Marbury in a line from “La La La,” (“Don’t confuse me with Marbury out this bitch / Pull up on me at the light, you could lose your life”) which referenced Marbury getting robbed and naturally had Step a little heated (it took him six years to respond). The cherry on top was when Shaq placed an infamous call to Hot 97 on the eve of the game to tell Fat Joe that he’d be making a special appearance on Jay-Z’s team the next day. All of that was about to come to a head on Thursday, August 14th, 2003, at the championship game between the two teams. It was more than just a basketball game.

You can watch “Blackout” to get the whole story, but the championship wound up cancelled and Jay’s team had to forfeit the game (none of the big guns showed up without Jay making those calls). Fat Joe was visibly upset, and years later he mentioned the incident on “Lean Back” (he also threw a jab at Jay during the 2003 Source Awards). Speaking to Zack O’Malley Greenburg, Fab 5 Freddy said, “That was the pinnacle of the Rucker, in that period. It got so big, and that was kind of the crescendo tournament.”

Two summers ago, when Nas dropped Life Is Good, I was lucky enough to be at the Rucker for my first time to cover his brief appearance at an EBC game. Jungle was there, along with Nas’ mother, and when Esco walked onto the court smack dab in the middle of the game, the crowd went bananas. Security formed a circle around him as spectators rushed to get close, and none of the players seemed to care that their game had been suddenly disrupted. Hip-hop and street ball had congealed into one huge mass of people. Everyone was happy.

Rappers have always wanted to be ball players, and ball players have always wanted to be rappers, yet they all understand they carry the same ambitions. The swagger, the style, the competition, the creativity – they’re all common bonds between the crossover and the punchline. Rucker was where both worlds collided, and will continue to collide, not only for the betterment of New York youths, but for the joy of ballers, rappers, and music fans around the world. History always repeats itself. — Watch Loud

Raefer Alston's Legendary NYC Streetball & NBA Credentials

RUCKER PARK DIARIES: HOW RAFER ‘SKIP 2 MY LOU’ ALSTON MADE A NAME FOR HIMSELF BEFORE THE NBA

HOW RAFER ‘SKIP 2 MY LOU’ ALSTON MADE A NAME FOR HIMSELF BEFORE THE NBA

Ron Naclerio is a New York City basketball treasure. As the head coach at Benjamin Cardozo High School in Queens for 33 years, his teams have won two Public School Athletic League championships. But in addition to being considered one of the top high school basketball coaches in the country, Naclerio is also a hoops historian and junkie. He is consumed by the game.

During a vacation last summer in Florida, he isolated himself in his hotel room and studied hours of video on Michigan State’s offensive sets, plucking a play or two that his Cardozo team used en route to winning the city title this past spring. Naclerio is not only ubiquitous on the sidelines while coaching various teams during the school year, but he’s also a fixture on the summer playground scene as one of the many colorful characters stalking the sidelines. He’ll also still lace up his sneakers and give a talented player a run for his money when motivated.

If you passed him on the street, you’d probably assume that he was just another hyperkinetic, balding, middle-aged white guy from New York. But in actuality, Naclerio is a change-agent and cultural force of nature whose contributions to the style, sub-culture, and commerce of urban basketball is as equally legendary as his coaching resume.

He is largely responsible for the proliferation of a hip hop-inspired athletic and entertainment hoops counterculture that permeated the America’s sports consciousness from the moment that And1 decided to give a free copy of a ‘Streetball Mixtape’ to customers who purchased a pair of its sneakers in the late 1990s.

Naclerio not only provided the company with the tape, but he was also instrumental in honing the skill set of the young man whose blurry-fast crossover dribbles, mesmerizing ball-handling and exhilarating passes convinced some that their eyes had the capacity to lie.

Image via SLAM

That young man’s name was Rafer Alston. But at Rucker Park and other playgrounds throughout the city, he was a certified legend, known throughout the hoops underground as a one-man phenomenon called ‘Skip 2 My Lou’ before ever playing a single game in the NCAA or the NBA.

With a father battling a debilitating addiction, Alston would escape from his rugged neighborhood in Queens via subway, searching the city for competitive pickup basketball games at the age of eleven.

“The handles and the passing that I became known for, that developed from playing a lot,” Alston recently told Slam Magazine’s Ben Osborne. “And also watching a lot. Bouncing around the city, going to different playgrounds, different parks and noticing all the stuff that gets fans out of their seats. I watched local guys that made it big like Pearl Washington, Mark Jackson and Kenny Anderson. Plus local guys that didn’t make it out, like ‘Master Rob’ (Rob Hockett) and ‘Dancing Doogie’ (Gerald Thomas). Doogie was tough. There were so many kids who were so gifted that never made it to college or the NBA.”

Coach Naclerio met Alston when the young boy was ten years old and the two struck up an unlikely friendship. They started working out together when Alston was in the sixth grade. Naclerio began taking his young prodigy all over the city, where he acquired his first nickname, ‘Shorty.’

Naclerio sat down to talk about his famous hoops whiz kid and some of his favorite memories that took place within the chain link fences of Rucker Park:

“Rafer was about twelve years old and even though he was really tiny, he was very smart and knowledgeable about the game. When we would work out, I had to get creative with dribbling drills that I had him doing because he picked up on everything so fast. He would take what I taught him, master it, and then add layer upon layer of something new and different on top of it.

He loved working out and expanding his skills. He couldn’t get enough of it. Some people looked at what he was doing and thought it just came naturally. Rafer did possess a lot of natural talent and smarts about the game, but he also put in hundreds of hours practicing and perfecting his skills.

But by the time he was about 15 years old, he started to accumulate a cult following on the playgrounds. That’s when one of the announcers in Rucker Park gave him the nickname ‘Skip 2 My Lou,” because sometimes he’d be skipping down the court while doing this little dance.

I had Stephon Marbury and Rafer playing in the same backcourt together out at Rucker Park when they were 14 and 15 years old. Now that was a sight to behold. They were just two kids, but they were exceptional. I don’t know if there was ever a backcourt that was that young in the history of Rucker Park that performed at the level that they did.

Watching them play and have that type of success against some great players, guys who were in college or in the NBA or overseas, that’s when I knew that they had a chance to be just as special as they got older, that they had a legitimate chance to reach the level that all kids dream about, the NBA.

Most kids that are really good in high school, as they get older and play in college, their deficiencies become more pronounced. The competition gets tougher, they’re not as strong as they looked in high school, their range isn’t as good against guys who are bigger and stronger and faster and they can’t get to the rim as easily.
Image via AND1

But Rafer and Stephon, they were taking it to grown men that had legit reputations. And what made what they were doing even more amazing was that nobody up there (the street legends, college guys, overseas pros or NBA guys) wanted Rafer and Steph to steal their thunder. To them, it was like losing to little kids. But no matter how hard they tried to intimidate them, shut them down and beat them, they realized that these kids were incredible.

One of the greatest teams I coached at Rucker Park was ‘The Entourage’ in the early 1990s. All of our guys were in high school, except for Conrad McCrae, who was playing at Syracuse at the time. We might have had one or two more guys who were young players in college, but the majority of the team was high school kids and Rafer and Steph was our starting backcourt. We made it to the playoffs that summer. We lost in our next game, a triple-overtime thriller against the team that eventually won the championship, but we were the crowd favorites whenever we played.

The crowds would go crazy for us and they wanted us to win every game, because every win meant another phenomenal performance from ‘Skip 2 My Lou.’

It got to the point where Rafer became the Pied Piper of New York City playground basketball. People have to understand that Rafer played for me at Cardozo, but there were academic issues so he only really played about ten games in total of high school basketball. But he became a certified legend, and I mean A LEGEND, by the performances he put on in those playground tournaments.

It was a phenomenon. I hadn’t seen anything like that before on the playgrounds. The only thing I could compare it to was The Beatles. Wherever he performed, it was a major event. I would drive him to our games, and it was amazing to walk in and out of Rucker Park with him. Everybody wanted to touch him and talk to him and get his autograph. Girls would mob him, running up on him and handing him pieces of paper saying, ‘Here’s my number, call me.’ He barely played much high school ball and hadn’t even gone to college yet, but he was the biggest star in New York City.

Image via AND1
One of my favorite memories was one game when a lot of the players got confused about what time the game was supposed to start. We only had five guys – Mark Jackson, his brother Troy ‘Escalade’ Jackson, Ryan ‘Special FX’ Williams, Darryl ‘Showtime’ Hill and Rafer. So Mark throws me a jersey and Escalade was like, ‘He’s gonna play with us?’

I looked at him and said, ‘Troy, your nickname might be ‘Escalade’, but to me it’s ‘Three Trips and Gatorade.’ Because after three trips up and down the court, you had to sub him out of the game. And sure enough, after three possessions, I had to sub into the game for him.

I’ve seen some amazing performances in Rucker Park. I once saw Conrad McRae, who they called ‘McNasty’, block 19 shots in a game. I saw Kevin Durant pulling up from damn near half-court and hitting some amazing shots on the night he scored 66 points. I saw Lance Stephenson, when his nickname was ‘The 8th Grader’, put on some great performances. I saw Kareem Reid, who was as good as any New York City guard that didn’t have an NBA career, put on some amazing performances against guys like Nate Robinson.

Having to choose my favorite moment at Rucker Park is like judging the Miss America pageant. There are 50 beautiful women there. How do you choose the prettiest? I’m not gonna say that Rafer was Kobe, LeBron or Michael, but his impact, and the way he played out there, I’d never seen anything like it. And people outside of the parks hadn’t even seen him play yet. He was amazing.”

Image via SLAM

The lore of Rucker Park and New York City basketball is littered with sad tales of transcendent talents who never became more than playground legends, phenomenal players who were just as good, if not better than their contemporaries in the NBA. But they succumbed to the lure of selling narcotics and the criminal lifestyle or the grip of a debilitating drug addiction. The Goat, Pee Wee, The Destroyer, The Fly—they never got to realize, due to their own self-destructive choices, their true hoops potential.

But Skip 2 My Lou did more than etch his name into the pantheon of Rucker Park greats. He made the quantum leap, causing a seismic collision of playground culture with an NBA paycheck.

While his counterpart, Stephon Marbury, left New York with a scholarship to play in the prestigious ACC with Georgia Tech, Rafer went about earning his G.E.D.

He then attended two junior colleges in California over a three-year period, where he eventually acquired his Associate’s Degree at Fresno City College. During his one season playing at Fresno City, he averaged 17.3 points and 8.6 assists per game.

Then legendary college coach Jerry Tarkanian awarded him a Division I scholarship to Fresno State University. Before playing one minute of major college basketball, he appeared on the famous cover of Slam Magazinewith a sub-heading that read, “Fresno State’s Rafer Alston. The Best Point Guard in the World (You’ve Never Heard Of).”

He went on to play eleven years in the NBA for the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, Miami Heat, Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic and New Jersey Nets. — ALEJANDRO DANOIS | EBC

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Kim Kardashian’s Butt Is An Empty Promise

 

Kim Kardashian’s Butt Is an Empty Promise
The celebutante's exaggerated behind on the cover of a magazine offers no truth or insight. It only makes us think about how it looks like a glazed Krispy Kreme donut

Last night Paper magazine released two of their latest covers, one featuring Kim Kardashian and the other one featuring an even more famous celebrity: Kim Kardashian’s butt. They were emblazoned with the words “Break the Internet,” and they certainly did. The images instantly shot to the highest currency in today’s media: they were trending. But that’s pretty much all they were. There is nothing behind that butt other than it being a really nice butt. That is the end–pun intended–of it.


This is not the first time that we have seen Kim Kardashian’s posterior. And it is not the first time that we have seen Kim Kardashian naked on the cover of a magazine. Strangely enough, she suggested back in 2010, the last time she was naked on a cover, that she wouldn’t pose nude again. She already broke that promise once this year, baring it all for British GQ. We had to know that it wouldn’t be true in hind sight (get it?).

The funny thing about Kim’s latest butt-shot is that all it is intended to do is create a frenzy, much like her famous “belfie” (which is a butt selfie for those of you at home who have better things to pay attention to). There is no reason Kim Kardashian wants to show off her ass or #BreakTheInternet other than because she can, she is expected to, and we fall for the trap every damn time.

It’s really provocation for provocation’s sake, the cheapest kind of stunt. Miley Cyrus, pop music’s current firebrand, was naked on the cover of Rolling Stone licking her shoulder. She revealed less physically, but more intellectually. It was that tongue hanging out, a pose she has repeated again and again while twerking. These moves, and, of course her memorable VMA performance with Robin Thicke, made us all think about cultural appropriation, female sexuality, third wave feminism, and what is appropriate behavior for a celebrity with such a large fan base of young women. Kim Kardashian’s butt on Paper magazine only makes us think about how it looks like a glazed Krispy Kreme donut.

Speaking of pop music provocation, this is nothing that Madonna didn’t do better, first, or smarter several decades ago. Everything from writhing around in her wedding dress on the first ever VMAs to her book Sex was pushing the envelope, but it was always with a purpose. It was about freeing herself from the shackles of the Catholic Church and conventional morality and showing the world that women can own their sexuality without being exploited.

And these aren’t the only women. Joan Rivers (RIP) was telling jokes that often raised controversy to show that if we can laugh at the Holocaust or 9/11, we can ease the pain we still feel about it. Sarah Silverman, another brilliant comic whose mouth frequently gets her in trouble, uses her jokes about racism, sexism, and homophobia to show the world how absurd all of those things really are when you examine them closely.

These are all people that think about what effect their actions are going to cause and see some sort of greater good by causing controversy. Kim Kardashian shows off her butt because she knows that people are going to freak out about it. Maybe it’s because Miley grew up forced into a sort of bright-eyed decorum by the suits at Disney that she knows how to rebel against something. Madonna had the Church and Rivers and Silverman have the male-centric world of standup comedy. They all have a barrier that they’re butting (ha!) up against and trying to tear down. What sort of obstacles did Kim, a pretty, rich girl from Beverly Hills, ever have to fight against?

 

Seriously, though, this is the only social currency she has in the world. I’m not going to break out that old saw that Kim Kardashian has no talent, but she has no occupation like Miley, Madonna, Joan, or Sarah. She has no outlet to express herself and keep herself relevant other than a highly scripted reality show with sinking ratings and her image. Remember, she is a celebrity whose initial fame, after being Paris Hilton’s closet organizer, was predicated on her having a sex tape. Kim Kardashian can only peddle in her body, and her ass is the most valuable part of that body.

Still, we follow it because that is what she does. It’s perfect that she’s married to Kanye West, whose hyperbole are so outrageous that we now just roll our eyes at them. It’s just Kanye being Kanye, much like Kim applying a liberal coat of oil to her derriere and slapping it on a magazine cover is just Kim being Kim. These two are all just provocation and bluster, repeated images that seem to offer us some sort of truth or insight but are really just self serving.

Kim Kardashian’s butt is the biological equivalent of click-bait. We can’t help but pay attention to it, but we’re always upset by the lack of substance. We want there to be something more, some reason or context, some great explanation that tells us what it is like to live in this very day and age, but there is not. Kim Kardashian’s ass is nothing but an empty promise. — Brian Moylan | TIME

Brian Moylan is a writer and pop culture junkie who lives in New York. His work has appeared in Gawker, VICE, New York magazine, and a few other safe-for-work publications.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Kim Kardashian's Kontroversial Kover

— Break The Internet —

NO FILTER: An Afternoon With Kim Kardashian
Kim wears Mikimoto necklaces and earrings, customized dress and vintage gloves throughout
If you know nothing else about Kim Kardashian, you know that she is very, very famous. Some would say that's all you need to know. At press time, she has 25 million Twitter followers, about a million less than Oprah Winfrey and nearly 5 million more than CNN Breaking News. Her Instagram account, where she is a prolific purveyor of selfies, is the site's third most popular. You can't walk through a supermarket without glimpsing her on a multitude of tabloids whose headlines holler about her relationships, her parenting style and the vicissitudes of her ample curves. But she has also graced the covers of highbrow fashion bibles like W and Vogue; with her now-husband, Kanye West, she appeared on the latter above the hashtag #worldsmosttalkedaboutcouple, creating a furor that made it perhaps the #worldsmostcontroversialcover.

Her millions-strong popularity and inescapable media presence have made her grist for think pieces galore. She is variously seen as a feminist-entrepreneur-pop-culture-icon or a late-stage symptom of our society's myriad ills: narcissism, opportunism, unbridled ambition, unchecked capitalism. But behind all the hoopla, there is an actual woman -- a physical body where the forces of fame and wealth converge. Who isn't at least a tad curious about the flesh that carries the myth?

Unlike most people, she looks exactly the same in person as she does in photographs or on television, with one exception: she is smaller than she appears in images, with tiny, almost doll-like ears and feet and hands. Everything else about her seems amplified, tumescent. Her black hair is thicker than any you have ever seen, her lips fuller, her giant Bambi-eyes larger, their whites whiter, and the lashes that frame them longer. If some of this is the result of artificial enhancement -- does anyone else have eyelashes that resemble miniature feather dusters? -- none of it seems obviously ersatz. But that's not to say it looks real, either. She is like a beautiful anime character come to life.


As soon as she arrives at the hostess podium of the Polo Lounge in Beverly Hills, where we meet for our interview, a young fan who appears to be in her late teens or early twenties accosts her. The fan has been running to catch (keep up with?) Kardashian; she brings with her a breeze. "Will you take a selfie with me, Kim?" she pants. (This is what fans asks the High Priestess of Instagram -- autographs are so last century.) She obliges, leaning in for the picture and striding away almost before I can blink. "She's gonna post it," Kardashian says wryly. "I bet it's posted right now." Later, she will tell me that she's "not really a filter person," and that she doesn't generally use them when she publishes her many selfies. As she talks, I notice that her skin, which is the golden color of whiskey, is free of wrinkles, crow's feet, laugh lines, blemishes, freckles, moles, under-eye circles, scars, errant eyebrow hairs or human flaws of any kind. It's like she comes with a built-in filter of her own.

With its enveloping green leather booths and twinkling white garden lights, the Polo Lounge is a setting that lends itself to intimacy. Kardashian, who is wearing a monochromatic champagne-colored ensemble (Margiela bodysuit, Chloé silk pants, Lanvin silk coat), gives off a cozy vibe herself. She leans forward while she talks, resting her cheek in the palm of her hand as though she's chatting with her closest girlfriend. She tells me that the Kardashian clan is currently a week into filming season 10 of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, which she has called "the best family movie ever," never mind the rampant speculation, in early 2013, that season 9 would be her last. I'm surprised to hear that they still enjoy the process, since your typical American family would no longer be on speaking terms. "We're kind of obsessed with each other," she explains.

Today, a day off, she spent at a pumpkin patch with West, whom she repeatedly calls Kanye -- she clearly enjoys saying his name -- and their 16-month old daughter, North. They arrived at the farm unbothered by photographers, a rarity in the circus that is her life ("literally every single day there's about ten cars of paparazzi literally waiting outside our homes"). It wasn't long, however, before the paparazzi had surrounded them. "I couldn't really pick out our pumpkins, and [North] couldn't really enjoy it," she says. After a moment, perhaps concerned that she has come perilously close to complaining about her fame, she adds matter-of-factly: "You just have to not care. You just have to say, 'This is our life, and it is what it is.'" Her delivery is Zen-like, almost affectless, as it is on the show. "All my friends tell me the world could be coming to an end, and I'm always so calm," she says, opening a packet of Equal. She empties its contents into a glass of passion fruit iced tea, then fastidiously bites granules of sweetener off her manicured nails.

***


The rap on Kim Kardashian is that she has done nothing to merit her fame. But the longer I steep myself in the ambience of her pleasantly languid manner and hologram-perfect looks, the more facile this charge begins to seem. Of course, she has cannily leveraged that fame to build, with her sisters, a beauty-industrial complex, which includes a clothing line, a makeup line, a line of tanning products and seven perfumes. (A collection of hair care implements and styling products will debut in the spring.) Her mobile app, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, in which players climb their way to A-List status under Kardashian's tutelage, has earned over $43 million since its debut in June.

Yet her perceived lack of accomplishment is also, perhaps, an accomplishment in itself. Kardashian seems to know instinctively that, as Andy Warhol once observed, "When you just see somebody on the street, they can really have an aura. But then when they open their mouth, there goes the aura." Take the stream of small faux-confidences that she offers during the interview. They reveal very little yet foster a sense of closeness. She tells me that she is "obsessed with apps" but, when I ask her to name one, she replies, "I like all different apps." Of her 72-day marriage to Kris Humphries, one of her rare missteps that actually left a footprint, she says: "It's just one of those life lessons that you have to learn, and it's OK." Her behavior suggests that the key to total ubiquity is giving up all of one's verbal edges and sharp angles (while occasionally tossing out a memorable visual flare: a sex tape, say, or a nude photo shoot).

Social media has created a new kind of fame, and Kardashian is its paragon. It is a fame whose hallmark is agreeable omnipresence, which resembles a kind of evenly spread absence, soothing, tranquil and unobjectionable. There's an argument to be made that Kardashian has been recorded and viewed more often than any other personage in history, and while she has certainly had her awkward moments (posting a vampire facial on Instagram, announcing that she wanted to buy a stroller that complemented her unborn baby's skin color), she has also never made a truly ruinous gaffe, been caught in a Britney Spears-style public meltdown or sallied forth looking less than photogenic. As she puts it, "There's nothing we can do that's not documented, so why not look your best, and amazing?"

To mere mortals who occasionally visit the grocery store in yoga pants, her willpower and self-discipline are a marvel. Imagine being filmed and photographed constantly, yet never saying anything seriously controversial or appearing unkempt. The effort involved seems torturous, impossible. And yet, though her life requires work of a sort -- roughly two hours of hair and makeup each day, regular meetings for her assorted businesses, wardrobe fittings, photo shoots, 5:00 a.m. workouts -- you don't get the sense that she is hiding or suppressing her true, private self. "I think you've seen every side of me on my show," she says, popping a piece of pound cake into her mouth.

We're accustomed to our performers having onstage and backstage registers, but for her there is no division between the two. This is, indeed, the definition of a reality star. She's not performing, that is -- at least not visibly. She is being, and being is her act. Her appeal derives from her uncanny consistency, as does that of her show. It's relaxing to watch the sisters sprawl on each other's beds and talk about nothing, to see them discuss constipation cures or their preferred way to eat Nilla Wafers. Like Warhol's screen tests, Keeping Up With the Kardashians has a disarming purity. It invites us to glory in its stars' mundanity, which permits us to enjoy our own.

***


"My makeup artist said to me the other day, 'You haven't taken a selfie in a while,'" Kardashian says, as the afternoon slides into evening and the light turns magic-hour blue. To remedy this, she posted one of herself in full makeup and a white terrycloth robe, with the literal caption, "It's been a while since I've taken a selfie." It garnered more than a half-a-million likes. Selfies have been on her mind lately. She is putting together a collection of her oeuvre, called Selfish, to be published by Rizzoli in the spring. She has spent hours sifting through her vast, meticulously organized digital archive. "The book company edited them, and I was like, 'Wait a minute! There are like 300 here that you're not adding!'" she says. I remark that I am surprised she can remember and differentiate among a bunch of near-identical photos of her face. She can, she says; she is sorting them chronologically, dating them by what she wore to specific events. "I know what I wore, what accessories I wore, where I was, who I was with," she tells me. "I remember everything." Her mind, it seems, traps the minutiae most of us forget. For her, though, it's not minutiae; it's her life, and her life is her career.

I ask her whether Kim Kardashian would exist without social media. "I don't think so..." she says, slowly, then reconsiders. "I don't think social media was that heavy when we started our show, but I think we really evolved with social media." The next day, as I scroll through Instagram, I come across a photograph of her, taken the night of our interview, wearing the champagne getup at a restaurant in Venice. I also find two photos of North toddling around the pumpkin patch in a tiny fringed cape and Baby Vans. One of these pictures has more than a million likes. "I love sharing my world with people," Kardashian tells me, and I detect no hint of falseness. "That's just who I am." No more, no less. — PAPER

Styling by Alex Aikiu
Hair by Laurent Philippon at Calliste Agency
Makeup by Mario Dedivanovic
Manicure by Tatiana Sery at Aurelien Agency
Photographer assistants: Philippe Baumann, Franck Joyeux and Nicolas Premoli
Digital imaging: Helene Chauvet for Kilato
Digital: Christian Horvath For D-Factory
Producer: Virginie Laguens for Belleville Hills
Assistant producer: Gråce Salemme
Styling Assistants: Vanessa Ntamack and Ben Depinoy

Rock-Paper-Scissors: You vs. the Computer

http://nyti.ms/dQcYaA
Rock-Paper-Scissors: You vs. the Computer

Rock-Paper-Scissors: You vs. the Computer

Computers mimic human reasoning by building on simple rules and statistical averages. Test your strategy against the computer in this rock-paper-scissors game illustrating basic artificial intelligence. Choose from two different modes: novice, where the computer learns to play from scratch, and veteran, where the computer pits over 200,000 rounds of previous experience against you.

http://nyti.ms/dQcYaA
Rules of Engagement: Rock -vs- Paper -vs- Scissors
Note: A truly random game of rock-paper-scissors would result in a statistical tie with each player winning, tying and losing one-third of the time. However, people are not truly random and thus can be studied and analyzed. While this computer won't win all rounds, over time it can exploit a person's tendencies and patterns to gain an advantage over its opponent. — Gabriel Dance & Tom Jackson | The New York Times

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Americans Don’t Like Soccer Anyway


Americans Don’t Like Soccer Anyway
by Amasing

 
Ok, so the world says “football” but in America, we say soccer.  Next season New York will get an MLS (Major League Soccer) team called New York City FC (football club).


Who cares, we hate soccer anyway, and that’s true!  Though we hate soccer, the world embraces the sport and no other sporting event like the FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) World Cup reflects this.


The FIFA board announced that the 2022 World Cup will be held in the country Qatar.  For those who don’t know who or where this country is, think near Saudi Arabia, the Arabian Peninsula, and a Muslim nation.


Who would want to go to Qatar for the World Cup?  This is a country that restricts alcohol to hotels and certain other locations.  For Americans (and most Europeans), booze and sporting events go hand to mouth.  This is a country that also will imprison you for sexting (texting dirty words).  Yes, you can get arrested for sexting!  Speaking of sex, this nation does not tolerate homosexuals.


Like any place that wants your business (aka money), Qatar has stated that yes, alcohol will be served (though no word if it will actually be at the stadium).  They don’t hate gays, though they want you to remain in the closet, both literally and figuratively.  According to the countries sporting minister Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser al-Ali (damn, long ass name): "this impression, illusion that we don't care about our tradition and our ethical values ... We are studying all these issues. We can adapt, we can be creative to have people coming and enjoying the games without losing the essence of our culture and respecting the preference of the people coming here. I think there is a lot we can do."  In other words, “we only want people who follow our traditions to come and if you can’t, please buy the merchandise anyway online.”


Money, money changes everything.  We think we know what we're doin' that don't mean a thing.  It's all in the past now money changes everything”Cyndi Lauper

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Adventures Of Snack Man!



CNN   Man stops fight armed with potato chips! CNN's Jeanne Moos reports on "Snackman" the hero.


•   •   •

[ORIGINAL VIDEO]



Heading uptown on the 6 train, this woman sits down next to me. Then all of a sudden she jumps up and starts wailing this guy in the face. In complete disbelief I fumble for my phone and capture this...

Chip Man
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