Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Story of Bill Simmons: Road To Sports Writers Glory

Bill Simmons
Bill Simmons' Big Score
How A Failed Newspaper Writer Built A New Kind Of Media Empire At ESPN

From Bill Simmons' fourth-row seats at the Staples Center in L.A., we're close enough to hear basketball players swearing. In the last few minutes of a belligerent game, full of glaring, taunting, and pushing, the hometown Clippers are in the process of erasing Dallas' comfortable lead, scoring 23 of the last 27 points. To Simmons' dismay, the crowd doesn't seem to appreciate that they're watching one of the best games of the year.

Clippers center Blake Griffin, who has been the main target of Dallas' animosity, rises above the rim like he's wearing a jet pack and tomahawks a ball into the net. The L.A. fans celebrate his feat with a mild golf clap. "He could dunk with his dick and nobody here would stand up to applaud," Simmons mutters. Unfortunately, we don't get to find out.

Simmons was raised mostly in Boston, where every loss is like a death in the family, and even at 44, he watches sports with the delight of a kid — albeit a kid who's a multimedia mogul. During the NBA playoffs, which last nearly two months and end in June, he'll be a fixture on ESPN and ABC, via NBA Countdown. His 700-page Book of Basketball, despite being fatter than Eddy Curry in the off-season, debuted at Number One on The New York Times' nonfiction bestseller list. He goaded ESPN into making documentaries, which yielded 30 for 30, an excellent, Emmy-nominated series he executive-produces. His lively B.S. Report podcast, where he interviews jocks, actors, comedians college buddies, his dad, and Barack Obama, was downloaded 32 million times last year, and to keep him from bolting in 2011, ESPN gave him his own well-staffed website, Grantland. TV, books, documentaries, digital — it's the sportswriter version of the EGOT.

"We have similarly thorough backgrounds when it comes to movies, TV, sports and other worthless things," says his friend Jimmy Kimmel, who hired Simmons as a joke writer on Jimmy Kimmel Live! "Bill's very funny, he's married pop culture and sports more than anyone else, and he built his own media empire from a little blog."

That's not just tickle-tickle buddy talk. Simmons started to accrue a huge following in 1997, when he began blogging on AOL's Boston website in the role of an irritant and smart aleck, under the name Boston Sports Guy. Last summer, a Canadian columnist called him "an honest-to-God magnate" and "one of the defining figures" in digital media. All magnates have haters; Simmons makes it easy by frequently getting into feuds.

On NBA Countdown, Simmons plays a slightly exaggerated version of himself: a comedic troublemaker, "the wild card who doesn't give a shit," he tells me. "I'm part historian, part know-it-all, and part shit-stirrer. I don't hold back – that's the key."

During a recent Countdown, he denounced Brooklyn Nets shooting guard Joe Johnson, whom Simmons has tagged as the most overpaid player in the NBA. "Joe Johnson did not deserve to be on the all-star team," he says, so outraged and high-pitched he's nearly yelping. "Even he had to be shocked he made it." After the show goes off the air, Countdown host Sage Steele turns to him, shaking her head. "You," she tells him, "are a psycho."

The shit has been successfully stirred: Within minutes, Twitter is in flames. "Never hated a sports analyst as much as I hate Bill Simmons," I read as I scroll through his mentions, followed by "I want to punch him in the face," "He is such a douche" and "If Bill Simmons ever got in a car accident, I would be happy." There are compliments, too, but, let's face it, those are boring.

Simmons has 2.6 million followers on Twitter. Many can't wait to tell him what an idiot he is. (The Simmons brand has a strong ripple effect: Even his wife, known as the Sports Gal, has 25,000 followers, despite not having tweeted in almost a year.) Sports Twitter is a mire of stupidity, homophobia, and violent threats. It's probably the most inane culture on Twitter; at least on Politics Twitter, you occasionally come across a fact.

Simmons uses Twitter almost exclusively to promote and link to Grantland material. He doesn't reply to people who think he's a douche, or want to punch his face. He also writes fewer sports columns than he used to, partly because TV and movies occupy more of his time. The Internet gave him a career, an audience, wealth, influence, and fourth-row seats for the Clippers. But lately, Bill Simmons is kind of over the Internet.

On a Friday in January, Simmons and his Grantland staff scheduled a celebration: drinks at a glamorous hotel, after work, to celebrate the site's redesign. He and I talked for three hours in his undecorated office at ESPN's downtown L.A. complex, and a few times, he described his ambivalence about the effects of online culture.

Before the site launched, he decided Grantland wouldn't run slideshows, which draw big traffic but are dumb, or print reader comments, which breed idiocy. "Everybody was saying, 'Articles have to be short, because people have short attention spans.' And I felt like the opposite was true."

He built Grantland around long-form articles, the opposite of Twitter's enforced brevity, and hired writers known for their cleverness and insight, particularly with sophisticated sports statistics, rather than their snark: Jonah Keri for baseball, Bill Barnwell for football, Katie Baker for hockey, and for basketball, Zach Lowe, whom Simmons poached from Sports Illustrated by relentlessly pursuing him.

Unlike almost every other site, Grantland doesn't pick fights. "There's a mean-spiritedness on the Internet that we've stayed away from," Simmons told me in his office. "It seems to be getting angrier — especially Twitter, which is full of coyotes, waiting to attack the next victim." One false move, he added, and you find yourself in "a 24-hour shitstorm."

His thoughts about vengefulness took on a different meaning only a few hours later, when the shit-stirrer was now in a shitstorm of his own. Two days earlier, the site had published a story, "Dr. V's Magical Putter," about Dr. Essay Anne Vanderbilt, a female physicist who had invented a new, possibly superior golf putter. When writer Caleb Hannan investigated her background, he learned Vanderbilt was a transgender woman. Despite having agreed to her demand that he not write about her life, Hannan told Vanderbilt that he'd discovered the secret she clearly wanted to keep private, and he outed her to an investor. In the third-to-last paragraph of the story, Hannan revealed that Vanderbilt had committed suicide. It was a fascinating story, but also cruel and irresponsible.

Bill Simmons coaching in the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game in February.

The initial reaction was favorable: other writers called it "a great read," and "mesmerizing," as they shared the link on Twitter. Richard Deitsch, a reporter at Sports Illustrated, said Hannan's article "might be the best I've read this month," an opinion he regretted four days later, after the article had been widely condemned.

Unlike the controversy over Joe Johnson, there were genuine stakes in play. A political reporter called the "Dr. V" piece "absolutely, stunningly unforgivable." One Tweeter called Hannan "a fucking shit head and a murderer," and another said to him, "you harassed a trans woman until she killed herself."

On that Friday night, Simmons dismissed the furor — just more "mean-spiritedness on the Internet." Oddly, a master of new media was badly misreading what was happening. The next day, he took his daughter to her soccer tournament, and during a break between games, looked online, where the angry reactions had continued. "That's when everything turned," he says, "and I started to think we'd made a serious mistake. It snowballed over the weekend, and I started going into deep self-hatred."

The story's misjudgment was not the result of malice. The Grantland staff is more diverse, in gender and race, than most publications ("God forbid we ever get credit for that," he grumbles), and when I talked to him in the thick of the anti-Grantland tempest, he was clearly morose and regretful. "People hate our site now," he said.

But Simmons also didn't fully understand why people despised the article. "Crazy" and "hysterical" responses on Twitter had made him "embarrassed for mankind," and he didn't agree with me that Grantland never should have mentioned the fact that Vanderbilt was a transgender woman. Like a lot of people, especially people in the sports world, he's amiss in issues of gender and sexuality; a few weeks later, during a podcast in which he discussed Michael Sam, a college football player who came out in February, Simmons used the offensive phrase "sexual preference" – not out of hostility towards Sam, but out of ignorance.

Simmons wrote a lengthy apology for the "Dr. V" story, which Grantland posted the next Monday. The article, he admitted, lacked empathy for Vanderbilt, and should not have outed her posthumously. His apology was thorough and almost self-flagellating, but was also mitigated by his defensiveness, which ESPN Executive Vice President and Executive Editor John A. Walsh told me he found "unfortunate." In addition, Grantland published a stinging critique by ESPN baseball reporter Christina Kahrl, who is a transgender woman; she denounced the story's ignorance and "casual cruelty." "By any professional or ethical standard," she also wrote, Vanderbilt's past "wasn’t merely irrelevant to the story, it wasn't [Grantland's] information to share."

And ESPN ombudsman Robert Lipsyte, an accomplished 76-year old writer, added his own column, in which he called the article "inexcusable" in its "unawareness and arrogance." He described Simmons as "a talented, overextended 44 year old" with "considerable vision and celebrity." Lipsyte did not intend "celebrity" as a compliment.

In his columns, Simmons embodies the precise average of American maleness: He loves sports, movies, fantasy baseball and hot actresses, and is not unfamiliar with porn. "I don't have a shitload of hobbies," he says. "I'm not very complicated."

Once a year, he goes to Vegas with several friends — to gamble. "He's much more interested in playing cards than in seeing naked girls," Jimmy Kimmel says, with a tone of disdain. On his podcast, Simmons often talks about betting on games — up to $1,000 on individual games, or $2,000 on futures bets, he tells me. "I love gambling. I wish it was legal. But I never bet a lot, even in Vegas. Unless I'm really drunk."

He won't say whether or not he has a bookie in L.A., which means he likely does. And if he offers you a bet, you should probably take it — last football season, he won only 108 out of 256 picks against the spread in his column. "It was kind of a bummer," he says, though he points out that in 2006, he had his wife Kari make her own football picks in his column. "And she beat me. So if I had credibility after that gimmick, it was an accident." (Kari was also at least as funny as her husband. She said Lindsay Lohan would "look like a leather purse in 25 years no matter how much Proactiv she takes," and theorized that Katie Holmes "had her ankles removed" so she'd be the same height at Tom Cruise.)

Simmons will always be associated with New England — he might love Tom Brady and Larry Bird as much as he loves his wife and two kids — but he's unsentimental about his roots. "I don't think you could get him to go back to Boston at gunpoint," Kimmel says. Simmons is credited as an Internet visionary, but he went into new media only because old media rejected him. "Boston," he says, "is where I failed."

He began his career as a lackey at the Boston Herald, the lesser of the city's two daily papers, "organizing Chinese-food orders" and covering high school teams. He stood outside the Herald building on the Mass Turnpike, smoking cigarettes and "wondering what the fuck I was gonna do with my life."

Except for the addition of tall buildings, Boston hasn't changed since Paul Revere bought a horse. TV anchors and newspaper columnists keep their jobs for decades, and at the Herald, "mediocre writers were blocking my way," Simmons later wrote.

Simmons interviews the president for his podcast.
"I didn't do myself any favors," he adds now. "I was probably too arrogant, and could barely hide my disdain for some of the writers." After three years, "frustrated to the point of insanity," he quit and worked as a bartender. At 24, he began smoking pot, and soon owned a four-foot purple bong. (In L.A., he discovered West Coast weed was way more potent, and one night, ended up "hiding behind the curtains in my living room for 40 minutes because I thought somebody was watching us. After that, I phased back big time.") He considered going into commercial real estate with his stepdad before he came across a new website, AOL, where even a Herald reject could write.

He wrote with a fan's dismay and delight, rejecting the idea of being objective (a Boston partisan, he openly despises the L.A. Lakers and any team from New York), and attacking local sportswriters by name. No team would give him a press pass, so while newspaper guys padded short articles with boring quotes from athletes, Simmons distinguished himself by mixing in references to bands and movies (especially Shawshank Redemption and Karate Kid), and by writing long: "85,000-word essays about Rocky IV," Kimmel jokes.

Simmons' early work had flaws — bitterness, cheap cracks about the manliness of female athletes, praise for the Counting Crows — but it was also funny, fresh, expansive, and even sentimental, especially when he wrote adoringly about his dad and their sports bond. That's the secret element of Simmons' success: He's the most emo sportswriter around. He once penned a 3,000-word column describing how his dog Daisy died of lymphoma. It's the Fall Out Boy of sports columns.

In 2000, when ESPN launched Page 2, a site that mixed sports, pop culture and humor, Simmons waited for his phone to ring. "That was probably the lowest I sunk, when ESPN didn't hire me for Page 2," he says. He was in his early thirties, still borrowing money from his parents. A few months after the launch, he wrote a column mocking ESPN's annual awards show, and his taunts got noticed. "I was on the floor laughing," recalls ESPN's John A. Walsh. Soon, Simmons had his first ESPN assignment. If there's a moral, it's this: Bite the hand you cannot kiss.


No sportswriter has ever had as much success as Simmons, partly because sports is now inseparable from pop culture. Even if you don't care about football, you know Peyton Manning from his ads for Buick. Or DirecTV. Or Gatorade. By integrating with television, digital media, and Madison Avenue, sports has shifted from a pastime to a conglomerate: according to Forbes, the four major professional leagues are worth a combined $91.2 billion. This makes it harder to care about sports — who roots for Comcast, or Chevron? — but the enthusiasm of Simmons' columns and podcasts return fans to the spirit of the pre-show-me-the-money era.

ESPN has both enabled this growth and benefitted from it, and is now worth $50.8 billion, making it the most valuable media brand in the world, according to Forbes, with 7 domestic and 24 international TV networks, radio networks, a weekly magazine and websites. That's a staggering sum for a network that launched in 1979 with a lineup of college soccer, wrestling, and slow-pitch softball.

Tony Kornheiser, a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his sportswriting, and a host of ESPN's lively Pardon the Interruption, calls this "a Golden Age for sportswriters," though not a Golden Age for sportswriting. In spite of all these opportunities — or maybe because of them — sportswriters have never seemed more unhappy. They bicker like Real World cast members, and beef like gangsta rappers in the Nineties. And Simmons is often in the middle of these tiffs, partly because people only beef up, and partly because Simmons' name guarantees website traffic, especially if he replies.

Deadspin is to mocking Simmons what Michael Jordan is to basketball, so I asked Tommy Craggs, the site's editor, to summarize the case against him. Craggs denounced Simmons' "chuckling, incurious, cleverest-guy-standing-around-the-Phi-Delt-keg writing voice," and dismissed him as "nothing more than a dispenser of dull, honkified conventional wisdom about sports." He also said Simmons had been smart in not hiring Bill-Jr. clones at Grantland, adding that a site full of Simmons-ish prose "would suck."

What is it with these guys? They're nearly as bad as Sports Twitter. Charles Pierce of Esquire wrote a snarlish review of Simmons' Book of Basketball (on Deadspin, of course), mocking his frequent digressions into gambling, movies, his friends, and strip clubs, and concluding with the words, "Get the fuck over yourself." This lead to an angry exchange of emails and posts, during which Pierce called Simmons a "mendacious, whiny little thin-skinned bag of breeze." Several months later, Simmons hired Pierce as a staff writer, so presumably, all has been forgiven. Also: Tommy Craggs, Simmons' chief tormenter, was set to take a job at Grantland in 2011, before he shit-talked an ESPN.com writer and the new job fell apart. Why do even Simmons' most severe critics want to work with him?

For an impartial opinion, I asked a younger journalist who works for one of ESPN's competitors if he thought Simmons is a good writer. "As far as craft? No. His pieces are too long, there's too much I in them, and he goes on too many tangents. But he's very smart, he's wittier than all the people who imitate him, and he has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the NBA. The Internet made Bill Simmons, and it also produced all the people who like to tear him down. That's the thing about the Internet — it makes its own gravy, over and over again."

Once Simmons got an ESPN assignment, he quickly found an audience. But just as immediately, his relationship with the Worldwide Leader in Sports was full of conflict. "ESPN was idiotic," says Simmons, who can match any athlete for self-confidence. "They fucked with my column for the first year, taking out jokes, and I was pissed off. They were rebuilding their site around me, but they were paying me nothing. So I had a meltdown: I didn't turn in a column. I was like, 'Attica! Attica!' " He laughs. "I was probably smoking too much pot."

ESPN rewarded his work strike with a raise. "Bill likes to be in control," an insider says. "In the early days, he was very upset about where they placed his column, versus where other columnists were. He's a great advocate for himself and his brand."

It wasn't Simmons' last fight with his bosses. They've suspended him from Twitter twice for tweets: for referring to Boston sports-radio hosts who worked for an ESPN affiliate as "deceitful scumbags," and also for saying an interview that aired on ESPN was "awful and embarrassing." Does he think they were right to suspend him? "No, I don't."

ESPN is owned by the Walt Disney Company, and some of Simmons' behavior — like, say, calling soccer "gay" or mocking people for being fat — makes him a far more troublesome employee than Mickey Mouse. Periodically, the two parties get annoyed at one another. ESPN president John Skipper once said working with Simmons was "about 99.8 percent great." ("Working with ESPN is 99.1 percent great," Simmons counters.) Convincing the network to do 30 For 30 required "a year of arm-twisting," he says. When it was a success, and his basketball book had been a big hit, his contract was up for renewal. "I had a little leverage." He told ESPN that he wanted his own site, or he'd leave and do it elsewhere.

Grantland's success, like Simmons', has resulted from good fortune as well as talent. Since 2002, Boston teams have dominated pro sports, tallying eight titles in twelve calendar years, including baseball, basketball, hockey, and football. No other city has ever had that kind of success, and it brought a lot of attention to Simmons. No wonder he loves Tom Brady so much.

"When we were launching, we didn't realize technology advances would help us so much." GIFs, Instapaper, wi-fi, embeddable links — all foster the ease of promoting a digital magazine. "The iPad has been a godsend — it's probably the greatest thing that's' happened to Grantland. Nobody knew the fucking iPad was coming. I didn't. We hit at the right time."

In a recent month, Grantland, according to comScore, had 4.7 million unique visitors, which represents just a sliver of ESPN's 62 million unique visitors and pales compared to Yahoo Sports' 57.9 million. (Even Deadspin, the Johnny Lawrence to Simmons’ Daniel LaRusso, had 13.8 million.) But the site's balance sheet isn't the point. ESPN likely pays him more than $5 million a year, the insider estimates — not because of Grantland, but because Simmons is a guy with big ideas, a one-man vertical-integration engine.

Now that he oversees an empire, Simmons says he doesn't care as much about Boston teams. "It's not life-or-death anymore," he says with a shrug. But that might not be true. His daughter loves L.A.'s hockey team, the Kings, so he took her to see them play his team, the Bruins. "Boston won, and I taunted her on the way home. She started crying. She was, like, six years old." A few years later, they went to another Kings-Bruins game, and this time her team won. "She was yelling and high-fiving everyone," Simmons says, "and she taunted me." Of course she did. It's in the bloodline. — Rob Tannenbaum  | RollingStone.com

Russian Army Spoon Prank

The Russian soldier getting his head clobbered by the trick spoon isn't exactly the sharpest tool in the shed.

"Angie" by The Rolling Stones

"Angie" by The Rolling Stones

Angie, Angie, when will those clouds all disappear?
Angie, Angie, where will it lead us from here?
With no loving in our souls and no money in our coats
You can’t say we’re satisfied
But Angie, Angie, you can’t say we never tried
Angie, you’re beautiful, but ain’t it time we said goodbye?
Angie, I still love you, remember all those nights we cried?
All the dreams we held so close seemed to all go up in smoke
Let me whisper in your ear,
Angie, Angie, where will it lead us from here?
Oh Angie, don’t you weep, all your kisses still taste sweet
I hate that sadness in your eyes
But Angie, Angie, ain’t it time we said goodbye?
With no loving in our souls and no money in our coats
You can’t say we’re satisfied
But Angie, I still love you, baby
Everywhere I look I see your eyes
There ain’t a woman that comes close to you
Come on baby, dry your eyes
But Angie, Angie, ain’t it good to be alive?
Angie, Angie, they can’t say we never tried

The Crocodile Whisperer

Amazing documentary about a man named Chito who swims and plays with a croc named Pocho. Unbelievably, the crocodile appears to enjoy spending time with him.

The Lion Whisperer

The GoPro production crew journeys to Africa to explore the danger and beauty of Kevin Richardson's passions for lions and their future.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Los Angeles Clippers' Owner: Donald Sterling Racist Audio Comments w/ Girlfriend

L.A. Clippers Owner Donald Sterling's Racist Rant Caught On Tape

• "It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?" (3:30) 

• "You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want.  The little I ask you is not to promote it on that ... and not to bring them to my games." (5:15)

• "I’m just saying, in your lousy f******* Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself with, walking with black people." (7:45)

• "...Don't put him [Magic] on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me.  And don't bring him to my games." (9:13)


Steve Kerr & Phil Jackson Meet To Discuss Knicks Head Coaching Job

Phil Jackson the Zen Master; long-time Knicks coaching nemesis is now
President of their team

Steve Kerr, Phil Jackson Meet About Knicks’ Coaching Job

Former NBA guard Steve Kerr and New York Knicks team president Phil Jackson met over the weekend to discuss the Knicks’ vacant head-coaching position, Kerr said Sunday.

Kerr, a TNT analyst who was in Brooklyn on Sunday to call the playoff matchup between the Nets and Toronto Raptors, told ESPN.com’s Ohm Youngmisuk he had dinner with Jackson on Friday and spoke with him again on Saturday.
Steve Kerr has never coached at any level, but
was the GM of the Suns for three seasons.

“We will keep talking,” Kerr said, according to ESPN.com. “There is a lot to cover on both sides. This was the first time we’ve talked about the job. It just opened up last week. We got a lot of things to discuss.”

Kerr has never been a head coach in the league, but he did serve as the Phoenix Suns’ general manager from 2007-10. The Suns went 155-91 (.630) in his three seasons at the helm. He said the possibility of working for Jackson, his former coach with the Chicago Bulls, was enough to pique his interest.

“Oh yeah, how could it not?” he said. “It’s the Knicks and Phil Jackson, my coach. I would be crazy not to look into it.”

Kerr has long been reported to be the frontrunner for the Knicks’ job, even before Jackson fired head coach Mike Woodson. He said recently he expects to be “part of the conversation” for the gig, but he has also already reportedly expressed concerns about the team’s management and its roster. He could jump into the job at a time when Carmelo Anthony is set to test the open market as a free agent. On Sunday, however, he offered no thoughts on the state of the Knicks’ roster.

“Those are details that have to be private,” he said. “Those are things that Phil and I are going to discuss further, all kinds of things, organizationally, personnel-wise, but those discussions are all private.” — Brett Logiurato | SI.com

Saturday, April 26, 2014


Raekwon Wu-Tang Clan
Raekwon of Wu-Tang Clan.

Q&A: Raekwon 'On Strike' From Wu-Tang, Blasts RZA for 'Mediocre' Music

"RZA's a coach who won rings back in the day, but now your team is in ninth place. It’s time for a new fucking game plan"

On the surface, this should be a great time for Wu-Tang Clan. The group is prepping the release of their comeback album A Better Tomorrow, their first since 2007's 8 Diagrams, while simultaneously upending industry conventions by selling one copy of a different 31-track album titled The Wu - Once Upon a Time in Shaolin.
But the revered hip-hop crew seems more divided than ever, at least among certain members. Earlier this week, RZA claimed that Raekwon has essentially disappeared from the recording of A Better Tomorrow, and that creatively, the two were on "different paths." Rolling Stone got on the phone with an angry, passionate Raekwon, who rebutted RZA's charges, accused him of lying and lobbied harsh charges against the Wu-Tang producer.

RZA told Vlad TV, "I haven’t had a chance to really talk to him about why [you're not involved with the album]. But I would say that maybe creatively we on different paths." What's your response to that?
I don’t know why he said he didn’t speak to me, because he did speak to me. We spoke about two weeks ago. It was me, him, his brother and business partner Devine and we talked about why I’m not there right now. They know where I’m at and at the end of the day, him saying he didn’t speak to me is a bold-faced lie.
And yeah, we are at creative differences because at the end of the day, I want to win. I’m used to being a winner. Being that I feel the team is being compromised by his so-called "logic" of making music, I have a problem with that because I love my fans. I would never want to give my fans anything other than the best. So when we’re sitting there discussing the creative process of making a great album for the fans, I’m not going to never settle for less. I’m not the only one [in the group] that feels this way too. 
What do you mean specifically when you say the team is compromised?
This shit is not right. It’s not making us give the fans the best that we can give them. So of course we have a problem with that. It’s like coming out with some music that you’re not feeling. Therefore, it’s being compromised by RZA and his brother Devine, Mitchell Diggs. My thing is, yeah, he’s right, we’re on different pages when it comes to being creative because RZA, you’re not in the field no more. I’m still paying attention to what’s going on and an amazing group that’s got so much potential to be bigger than what they are if they just focus and come out with great music. On "Keep Watch," you put this new young kid on there who nobody knows who he is – and I’m not taking shots at the kid – but I don’t even know who he is. That song is something that the crew didn’t have knowledge of, from what I’m being told. Dudes ain’t feeling good about it. 
What do you think of "Keep Watch"?
I hate it. I hate it. I don’t hate shit, but I hate that fuckin’ record. It ain’t the gunpowder that my brothers are spitting; it’s the production. And I ain’t shitting on the producer because he’s one of our soldiers. But if it ain’t where it need to be… It’s 20 years later. We talkin 'bout a whole new generation is sitting here representin' and making fiery shit and you telling me that we comin out with some mediocre shit? That ain’t part of our plan.

How much of A Better Tomorrow have you heard?
The bottom line: I’m not happy with that. I’m not happy with the direction of the music and I’m not happy with how dudes is treating dudes’ business. What are we giving the fans? What are we giving the people that help us be here? If it don’t feel right, I can’t be fake. And I’m not the only one who feels like that. Fans want the best and I have to sit here and work that hard to give them the best. Period.
You say you're not the only one who feels like this, but is this a majority of the Clan or a few members?
I can't speak for brothers. If they're going to sit there and allow themselves to be comfortable with what's being made, i don't know that part. The so-called "organization," – the business dudes – they made that decision to come out with that record. That’s where I have a problem. That’s not how it works. As a team, we make these decisions. My thing is this: For every problem, we try to find a solution. But the first thing is, we have to make sure that we’re all comfortable doing business. For me, I don’t mind doing whatever it takes to make sure Wu-Tang Clan has the greatest album that they could ever make. But first things first: Business is business and you gotta respect that.
Where specifically do you feel slighted, businesswise?
In order for Chef to work, the Chef contract has to be correct. It has to be a situation where I can say, "You know what? This is the best situation for me and my family." That’s who I work for. I work for my family.
It almost sounds like you’re on strike.
It’s the same as being an athlete. I don’t give a fuck if it’s Kobe Bryant or Kevin Durant. They will not touch the floor if their managers or lawyers are saying, "Listen, shit ain’t right." So therefore, I’m in a limbo situation. So yeah, you’re right. I am on strike. It ain’t the fact that I don’t want to be there. Because of course I want to be there. But if we’re there, we gotta do the best everything. We gotta work 10 times harder, because that’s what I’m signing in for. I’m not about listening to somebody that’s not an artist telling me what the fuck they think is hot. 
As far as the RZA, I respect him, I love him – the love ain’t gonna go anywhere – but you’re not in the music world no more. So to me, you need to take a backseat and respect the n---as that is playing the game. I’m always out in the field and finding out what’s going on with the new. Period.
Do you think it's him or other people getting into his ear?
RZA’s the type of dude where, in the 90s, he ruled. Now it’s a new day. You’re not attached no more. It’s like being a coach and you won rings back in the day, but now your team is in ninth place. It’s time for a new fucking game plan. I sit here with integrity all the time. When it comes to my music. When it comes to my business. When it comes to the fans. I’m always going to give them the best of me. And I know the Wu-Tang Clan is built like that, but if they’re sitting there listening to one man, ain’t no "I" in "Team." 
So what’s the solution that makes you happy and ready to work?
It ain’t about making me happy; it’s about doing business and negotiating the best terms and making me feel like, "You’re not lying to me." But before anything, everybody else’s business might be taken care of correctly where they can move forward, but Chef is not! My shit ain’t together! I have to deal with that first. 
Second, RZA’s saying this is Wu-Tang’s last album? OK. Cool. That’s what it is? You the Abbot? It’s the Abbot show? Aiight, then it’s the last fuckin’ album. I’m cool with that. But at the same time, you’re not going to have me be attached to something that’s broke. Because if it’s already broke, why fix it?

Do you think part of it is the expectations put upon the group after 20 years?
We created something that wound up being so big, it has to sit on a certain kind of podium. It has to be sitting up there shining. It can’t be sitting up there with bullet holes and all this bullshit on it. I love my fans. I would never give them something that I feel is not a hit or a win. We made decisions together when it came to making great music. Today, I don’t know where RZA’s mind is at. I don’t know if he looks at himself as being a top producer. But you’re not the top producer no more. You’re definitely one of the best, but you’re not one of the best today.
We said with this album right here, let’s go use some of the relationships with the producers and artists that we know and let’s make something that the fans can be like, "Goddamn." You don’t go out there and put somebody on the fucking record that nobody never heard of. That’s an insult to us. I’m just sitting back in the bleachers just watching shit. There’s no animosity with me and my brothers. My issue is with fuckin’ management. And whoever sits in that chair, RZA and Devine, that’s they shit that they have to deal with. You’re not going to bury my career with your dumb moves.
Was there talk about working with other producers?
There definitely were conversations about this like, "Let's make this a colorful album with some of the hottest producers in the game." Motherfuckers love and respect us enough where it's like, "If you call me, it would be an honor to be involved with it." But RZA, you're the guy that can do that and I don't understand why he's not doing that. We want to continue to hold that belt the way it’s supposed to be held.
Did you ever think about leaving the group?
[Pauses] I would never leave the group. Before, I would say to myself, "It can be fixed." We’ve done so much work together as a family that I would never turn my back on that. But if my business ain’t right, then it’s causing me to do what my heart is telling me to do. 
On a scale of 0-10, what are the odds that you end up on A Better Tomorrow?
We at a two right now. It’s like climbing up a fuckin' mountain if you got on slippers. 
It’s sad. It hurts. It’s all about the fans. It’s all about them saying, "This is my favorite fuckin' hip-hop group in the world." I have a job to do for them. And I would never let my fans down and make something I feel is mediocre just to say I made it. That’s not Raekwon.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The History of Mercedes-Benz's S-Class "Ahead Of Its Time"

Mercedes-Benz S-Class History Film "Ahead Of Its Time"

The History of Mercedes-Benz's S-Class

"Tha Game" by Pete Rock feat. Raekwon, Prodigy & Ghostface Killah | Produced by Pete Rock

"Tha Game" by Pete Rock feat. Raekwon, Prodigy & Ghostface Killah | Produced by Pete Rock


NBA Finals 1992 MJ "The Shrug" sample


Wall to wall.. that's my word
I want approximately.. everything you got
The verdict.. that's right

Call me the black champion Guess down, wanna test now
So let's grab the mack and vest, bless him if he stressed out
Amazin glazin Purple Haze patients
Blazin asians in Mercedes Benz stations
Yo moving through the tavern, guns that burn, sons that learn
Stabbin an intern, corporate book of words
Iceatollah Motorolas, gun reloaders, broads with rollers
When wet lense stolers, Lex glowers who owe us
Call up Comissionary Gordon, son go warn the Warden
That the lord is back, rollin with his sword again
Mix tape, masturbation mate rate plates ice traits
Guns wit bitches jumpin outta white cakes
It's on for real, indeed, Lex Leonardo
Shells that's hollow, six whipper through the 52 globe of horror
Carry the stainless steel armor
Nurture the church avenue drama, yo, African gold from Ghana
Puffin these marijuanas make Allah catch Alzheimers
Feedin bread to birds yellin fuck old timers

[Hook: Raekwon]

It's called game, game get ya life kilt, game recognize
Write wills, game slight chills things stay the same
Game, subliminary mill's smash grills night chills
Regardless what Pah things won't be the same
Game'll get ya life kilt game rcognize
Write wills, game slighht chills things stay the same
Game, subliminary mill's smash grills night chills
Mic skills baby pah won't be the same

(Check this out, one two, yeah yeah this is me P no doubt)

Picture of Prodigy of Mobb Deep

Segregate those fake punks
Separate the bullshit from the authentic
Vintage rhyme division got the globe listening
My rap scroll belittled your goals and visions
Prohibition got my whole block pissin Christians
One-fifty-one Dunn'll have you off balance walkin
Don't let your e-motions get involved talkin
To the wrong culprit, the killer be the soft spoken
So what's ya intentions, you want to glow for the moment?
Throw on ya two pennys then you boltin
I rock for the few chosen, who got they third minds open
Write a page that'll engage war and encite fights
Be on the look for the bright lights and North Winds
The trumpets be the mics ya size malevolent
You don't be long in my evesight, P's a powerful soldier
Of the light and things won't be the same
The game's over



MC Ultra high-brolic bank roll alcahol vulture
Garlic balls dice the shield of ocre
Tally ho pitty-pat backgammon pro
Pink salmon five spring rolls know me, you love my intro
Half a face wig sewed together like Manhattan Chase
Lookin like statue of praise, check behind the drapes
Castor Troy layin for Travolta mic gun pump
Layin on the floor Clark's bleedin watermelon chunks
Hold up... sprinkle the hash, Tony Chapstick
Snatch RZA last piece of fish right off the glass dish
Butter roll beats bagel tracks wavey hair decks
Lay it down straw hat style, Butterball crown
Time life investments, when broke I wrote the old testament
Crashed domes now perform excellence
Words with the President, brunch with Yeltsin
Gorbachev under Meth's nuts, he out in Belgium
Six and a half monkeys, twelve nazis
Four disappear, three eight two one flash to thin air
God's replica no wheel drive motionless mind cresica
Tilt the hat like Esther


[Pete Rock]

Aiyyo, I rumble into action, son I'm right on target
Legendary status with the way the track started
It's on, at any second with the high stakes
Drama, the game's teeth sharp like pirahnas
There's a million style biters who try to create
Make no mistake real niggas challenge the fake
Most valuable SP-1200 gold medals
Rae Progidy Ghost rhyme professional
The original, Pete Rock is like Soul on Ice
Dynamite with the mic device
Now roll the dice, for the game of death
Snake eyes baby pah, the Boy Wonder's a threat

The Legend Of The Naked Ninja

Naked Ninja Resists Arrest.
Naked Ninja Gets Tasered.
Naked Ninja Unaffected by Tasers.
Naked Ninja Rejuvenated by Tasers.
Naked Ninja Counters.
Naked Ninja B*tch-Slaps Cop.
Naked Ninja Does Somersault.
Naked Ninja Flees.
Naked Ninja Goes Down In Infamy.

theKONGBLOG™ NEWSFLASHDavid Martin a.k.a. Naked Ninja went on a butt-naked street rampage of epic proportions. The astonishing video footage depicts law enforcement officials descending upon a clothless bearded cowboy (in downtown Indianapolis) who physically resisted and fended-off the feeble attempts -by perhaps, the absolute worst collection of police officers known to mankind.
"After being tackled by a sidewalk vigilante, the Naked Ninja rose-up from the concrete and instantly became a viral sensation — literally coming back from the dead whilst letting-out a woman-like shrill -or should I say, "BATTLE CRY?" that lead into a surge of superhuman, PCP-like powers..." — reported by Kong from theKONGBLOG™
Police responded to the scene and attempted to subdue an agitated 27-year-old supervillain in the buff -who was going ape-sh*t in the streets. 
"...the streaking assassin began striking onlookers and passer-bys for no apparent reason and was tackled to the ground by a pedestrian in a suit..."a witness attested.
Armed w/ stun guns & tasers — the amateur-like officers' futile attempts (including a direct taser to the culprit's balls) seem to have absolutely no effect whatsoever on the Naked Ninja; who continued to wrestle, wriggle and fend-off the degenerate group of law enforcement officials.

In fact, the thousands of volts of electricity seemed to have super-charged Martin as he began unleashing a barrage of counter-strikes — including The B*tch-Slap Heard Around the World at approx. 1:29 mark [NOTE: The slap was so strong, it almost knocked a hefty lawman to his knees — literally.]

After fighting-off the pathetic officers w/ a series of karate kicks via the ground game, the Naked One somersaulted his way onto his bare-feet — wildly fleeing from the scene before being tackled once again -by the same pedestrian, from earlier.

"Geez! This guy's like a ninja, man — holy crap!" an unidentified
narrator shouts during the epic video clip.

This unforgettable viral video shows David Martin a.k.a Naked Ninja -in the buff, rampaging wildly on unsuspecting civilians and resisting arrest (Martin was high on 'Spice,' a synthetic form of cannabis, he later told police) in the streets of Indianapolis that bystanders and law enforcement officers will never forget.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

TRUE STORY: The Weeknd w/ My Mom Story

Once Upon A Time...

...I was having dinner at my parents' — and my Mom asked,

'I want put new Chinese songs...on iPod — but keep same (old) songs...you do for Ma Ma?'

"Okay, so you want me to add the songs from these (CDs) and convert them onto your iPod — and don't erase the current set-list, right Ma?" I replied.

'No-NO! No erase..I tell you Gin Kwong, I want to keep...same songs...you put (add) new one...' she adamantly replied.

"MA! I KNOW, I UNDERSTAND...DUH...you know what? I got you...here, give me!"

[I took her co-worker's "bootleg" green & purple CDs and added the tracks to her iPod Mini]

A Week Later...

...my parent's & I were dining-out — and I eventually asked my Mom if she liked the new songs,

'Yes, is good.'   'One sing slow song (slow jam) is goOod...very, good song,' she points-out w/ a slight smirk.

"Whaaa-aat? Which one is this?"

She  >>  to Track #25:

"Or Nah (Remix)" by The Weeknd feat. Ty Dolla $ign & Wiz Khalifa | Produced by DJ Mustard

Do you like the way I flick my tongue or nah?
You can ride my face until you['re] dripp'in cum
Can you lick the tip then throat the dick or nah?
Can you let me stretch that pussy out or nah?

Thank God my Mom can't speak English!

~The End~

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

RZA x MONTREALITY /// Interview

In this Interview with Montreality, the RZA speaks about:

- The type of student he was at school (0:18)
- Jobs he had as a teenager growing up (1:19
- His 1st big paycheck (3:48)
- His favorite cartoon character (4:33)
- His favorite videogame (5:28)
- What he thinks he were in a previous lifetime (6:09)
- His final (solo) studio album - The Cure (7:29)
- The Wu-Tang reunion album - A Better Tomorrow (8:37)
- Good times with Ol' Dirty Bastard, ODB hologram (10:30)
- The "Bobby Digital" saga, plans to release the amateur film this year (13:08)
- Who Hip-Hop belongs to (13:58)
- His message to the youth (15:09)

Fresh Off The Boat With Eddie Huang: New York City (Part 2)

Eddie goes to White Brooklyn for a look at the new (Momo Sushi), the new new (Bushwick Food Co-op), and the old (Peter Luger's) for a wine-laden meal with the Tony Stark of VICE—Shane Smith—to talk about the changing face of Brooklyn.

Fresh Off The Boat With Eddie Huang: New York City (Part 1)

In Part 1 of Fresh Off the Boat - NYC, Eddie travels north to the Bronx, where he and WorldStarHipHop star Loopy hit up local bodegas, chow down on a Japanese-Dominican plantain mash-up disaster, and talk about holdin' down the hood, over mani-pedis.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

TED TALKS: James Flynn — Why Our IQ Levels Are Higher Than Our Grandparents'

TED In 1900, only 3% of Americans practiced professions that were deemed "cognitively demanding." Today, 35% of us do, and we have all learned to be flexible in the way that we think about problems. In this fascinating and fast-paced spin through the cognitive history of the 20th century, moral philosopher James Flynn makes the case that changes in the way we think have had surprising (and not always positive) consequences.

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) are aspiring conferences provided by Sapling Foundation — under the slogan "ideas worth spreading".
TED actually began as a 'one-off' event [promoters use the term 'one-off' for special one-time event(s) thrown at different venues] w/ it's early emphasis on technology and design — keeping true to its origins in the Silicon Valley.
TED has grown and morphed into a phenomenon w/ various divisions & sub-divisions...the above individual(s) were a bit more fascinating than the other amazing, interesting & inspirational stories by truly amazing, inspirational & interesting people.

TED TALKS: Amy Cuddy — Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are

TED Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how "power posing" -- standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don't feel confident -- can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) are aspiring conferences provided by Sapling Foundation — under the slogan "ideas worth spreading".

TED actually began as a 'one-off' event [promoters use the term 'one-off' for special one-time event(s) thrown at different venues] w/ it's early emphasis on technology and design — keeping true to its origins in the Silicon Valley.

TED has grown and morphed into a phenomenon w/ various divisions & sub-divisions...the above individual(s) were a bit more fascinating than the other amazing, interesting & inspirational stories by truly amazing, inspirational & interesting people.

Extortion Plot Between Jay Z And Former Producer Chauncey Mahan Over Lost Recordings

Jay Z's Former Producer Chauncey Mahan Hatched Extortion Plot Over Lost Recordings Worth Atleast $15 Million: Report

Mahan, who worked for Jay Z from 1998-2002, was questioned by cops Friday after being found in possession of the records, but wasn't charged. Mahan reportedly reached out to Live Nation, Jay Z’s joint venture with his label, Roc-A-Fella records, saying he’d auction the recordings or hand them over for a $100,000 'storage' fee.

A collection of Jay Z’s master recordings that had gone missing in 2002 was found in a California storage unit amid an alleged extortion plot, according to a report.

Chauncey Mahan, a producer who worked for Jay Z from 1998-2002, was questioned by cops Friday after being found in possession of the records, which are valued between $15 million to $20 million, according to TMZ. He wasn’t charged.

The website reported Mahan reached out to Live Nation, Jay Z’s joint venture with his label, Roc-A-Fella records, and said he’d auction the recordings or fork them over for a $100,000 “storage” fee. They settled on $75,000, and agreed to rendezvous at a storage facility in Northridge, Calif., Friday, but cops, apparently tipped off by Jay Z’s camp, swooped in, the site reported.

The LAPD confiscated the tapes, and a judge will determine ownership, the website reported, noting a grand larceny complaint was filed with NYPD, presumably because the recordings went missing from New York.

"High Ball Stepper" by Jack White

"High Ball Stepper" from Jack White's new LAZARETTO album.

Directed by Ben Swank & James Cathcart

Jack White: Electric Guitar
Carla Azar: Drums
Catherine Popper: Bass
Lillie Mae Rische: Fiddle
Brooke Waggoner: Piano
Maggie Björklund: Pedal Steel
Ruby Amanfu: Vocals Effects, Tambourine 
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