15 Hip-Hop Songs That Made My 80's Great!

The 1980's appear to be all the rage right now and who am I to disagree, I (somehow) lived through them.

However, it seems when everyone is looking black, oops I meant back, there seems to nobody looking at the only music born in the "Decade of Decadence."

Well, that is what ya' boy is going to do right now.

In now way are these the "best" 15 hip-hop tunes of the 80's, just the ones that had the biggest impact on me.

Click the word "HERE" to hear the song discussed.

15. 'Sucker MC's' by RUN-DMC (HERE)

I start here because this is just about the first song I ever loved!!!!!

Easily the most influential group in the history of the genre. Before these guys came along emcee's wore fur, long earrings, knee-high boots, skin-tight suede pants and ponchos. Their authentically "hard" gear and delivery are what would later come to be called "swag."

This song is the one that is responsible for the very small burn mark I still wear on my ear today, as I could not resist the urge to break-dance on my Mom's carpeted floor every single time this song came on. Nerdy, yes! But I was powerless.

Side Note: I love that (Rev.) Run told us way back then, before the reality show and the millions, that he lived the life of "champagne, caviar and bubble baths." I guess some things never change.

14. 'Jingling Baby' by LL Cool J (HERE)

When James Todd Smith released his third album, 'Walking with a Panther', I could scarcely believe the noise emitted from the speakers in my bedroom. Was this at all possible? Had someone sampled my very favorite movie from the 1970's, "Black Belt Jones"? Was the person rhyming actually verbally "killing" every word, of every sentence, or every bar on the track?


And was I rewinding the cassette at the end of the song whenever it ended? ABSOLUTELY!

Side Note: While 'I Need Love' is so much more popular and came along earlier, this is the first song that both women and men could sing along to with equal passion.

13. 'Paul Revere' by Beastie Boys (HERE)

While I can say that Brass Monkey probably got more play and was more fun, this, my friends, was a revolution (sic: revelation) on wax.

Let me be perfectly frank about how much I loved this song: Nobody could convince me that the Beastie's were white, NOBODY! I didn't care about the album cover or the live performances, as we had just emerged from an era where even Berry Gordie had plastered white faces on black music to cross-over.

It was just too good to be white. When I finally realized that I was wrong and indeed the Beatsie Boys were white....I was mad. How dare they drop they most ridiculous beat in the (until then)history of the game.

But I kept listening, didn't I. HA!!!!!! Nothing had ever sounded like this, and it would take a full 10years for another track to supplant it as the beat I most like to hear free-styles over (Mobb Deep's 'Shook Ones).

Side Note: Rick Rubin said this was the first song he ever made that he thought was not up to snuff. That is why they decided to never film a video.

12. 'I Get the Job Done' by Big Daddy Kane (HERE)

All you need to know is there was really nobody like him in the annals of "Playa MC's."

'I Get the Job Done's' frenetic pace, produced by Teddy Riley (remember him?) was too much for my friends and I to keep pace with on the dance floor. We nearly died trying, though.

In an age where you had to be able to rhyme, dance and dress well to even get a number, he was KING!

Side Note: There are other, better performances of this song, but I wanted to remind people of the person that gave Hip-Hop credibility and, in the process, saved late-night television by bringing millions of teens to the medium, Arsenio Hall.

SN2: Loved Scoob and Scrap as well (Super LOL!!!!)

11. 'I Got it Made' by Special Ed (HERE)

Special Ed's tome to all the things he "got" single-handedly gave birth to all the Ultra-Braggadocio emcees of today. A simple, fantastic beat with an overly calm teen spitting about the things that range from the obvious (Cascade detergent for dirty dishes) to the absurd (a solid gold bone for his dog). An instant classic.

Side Note: The video is still one of my faves, as he decided to film a song about his riches in a....JUNKYARD! Hilarious!

10. 'Brand New Funk' by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince (HERE)

Before he was a movie star, television star, Scientology person, all-around lovable guy and whack emcee, Will Smith was actually one of the best rappers in the (then) game. This is my favorite of the pre-'Parents Just Don't Understand' catalogue from the group. It actually still stands up, beat-wise and lyrically.

Side Note: The opening of this video presages Smith's turn as Ali in the much later Michael Mann film.

9. 'Buddy' by De La Soul ft. Jungle Brothers (HERE)

Revolutionary on many levels, including: the lack of gold chains, the messaging of wearing condoms (for disease protection, not contraception) the relaxed, cerebral flow.

De La is a universally beloved as being the group that gave birth to backpackers. I just loved that a this was a song about their "buddy." Hey, I was a teenager. But truly a masterpiece in it's time...and now!

Side Note: This song introduced the world to a superstar, in the form of Q-Tip.

8. 'We Got Our Own Thang' by Heavy D (and the Boyz. HA!) (HERE)

Quite possibly the most danceable song of the decade. I dare you not to dance after clicking the link.

This song really set the table for the 1990's, as it was much more R&B than your standard Rap fare of the time. The dances, movement, film style, clothes and even haircuts, lean more 90's than anything else from the 80's, which means it was ...FUTURISTIC!

Side Note: Two-years later they would release the exact same song (not really) with Aaron Hall doing background vocals, Now That We Found Love. It would be the biggest Rap song since Parents Just Don't Understand, reaching #2 (or higher) on the pop charts in 16 countries.

7. 'Paper Thin' by MC Lyte (HERE)

The thing about Paper Thin is it goes beyond musicality. Does that make sense? Didn't think so. Allow me to explain.

Mc Lyte was a movement all by herself. She was as hard as Cool J, good-looking, confident, wore the very best of clothes, drove the best cars and rocked Lotto's. Her swag was swaggarrific to say the least. In an today's era, so many women boast about being "down" with a crew, or attaching themselves to hip-hop groups that are male-dominated and running with them. Mc Lyte was the LEADER of her crew, and that comes across strongly in her music.

It was rather difficult to choose a song that best personified my love (I wanted to hit that) for this outstanding artist, though admittedly, 'Lyte as a Rock' had absolutely zero chance of making the list because so many deejays have played it out over the years. It came down to this and 'ChaChaCha.' As soon as I saw the video, it was a wrap. Brought back too many (GREAT) memories.

Side Note: The car she is in at the beginning of the video, a Volkswagen Jetta, used to be the very pinnacle of black youth's aspiration. I wonder if things will ever get back to such accessible dreams in the hip-hop game, as Lil' Wayne talks of "dumping" his Phantom for a Maybach?

6. 'Please Listen To My Demo' by EPMD (HERE)

Putting into words the eerie, haunting sample of FAZE-O's, 'Ridin' High' that is at the core of EMPD's 'Please Listen to My Demo.' What I can tell you is that id never heard the song before I heard this, and within 10 seconds or so, I knew I was listening to something that would remain with me for years.

EPMD at the time were probably my favorite group, as they fit the mould of what any brash teenager needed in a musical fix: cool, young, rich and confident to the nines.

This track grabbed me because these highly-successful young men decided to bare the struggles of their rise to fame on wax. It had not been done before and there was no questioning a single word of the narrative, as it smacks of self-deprecating situational comedy. Eric and Parrish made dollars and fans, but few bigger than me!

Side Note: It took all my strength not to put 'So What 'Cha Sayin' in it's place, but i decided to go more obscure.

5. 'Hey Young World' by Slick Rick (HERE)

Somehow, someway, on an album that begins with the song 'Treat Her Like a Prostitute' and ends with 'Lick the Balls', Ricky Walters decided to include this beautiful tribute to the world's youth.

12 years before Buddy Love, Rick Da Ruler had his moment of clarity in the middle of a recording session. Truly hilarious, truly improbable and, truly poignant.

Side Note: Rick is BRITISH!!! I never knew. Thank goodness he made it to the States, his pimping may have been to hard on those girls overseas. LOL!

4. 'My Philosophy' by KRS-ONE (HERE)

KRS-ONE was the single-most influential artist of my 1980's persona. He is the reason I got back to reading about black history and nutrition. I grew up in a VERY Afrocentric household. I was at odds with the culture I was a part of in the house once I left to face the real world. Nobody was named Sirami out there. Nobody was vegetarian. Nobody drank distilled water. Nobody knew, or wanted to hear, anything about Africa or Africans. In my early-teens I began to assimilate as more of my time was spent outside of the house, in that "other" world.

KRS put a stop to all that the first time I heard him. He talked about having big nostrils and Hannibal Barca. He talked about Mandela before it was popular. He discussed mad cow in 1987 (go back and listen to his song 'Beef'). He talked about the importance of sexual hygiene (Jimmy), Police Brutality and every other topic that seemed to be important to me. "My Philosophy' just happens to be my favorite from the 1980's. Still very potent.

Side Note: The iconic album cover, with Kris looking out of the window ala Malcolm X, is one of the 25 most recognizable of all-time according to Rolling Stone.

3. 'Express Yourself' by N.W.A. (HERE)

I used to be ashamed of my infatuation with NWA, then I looked across the horizon at what is going on now and find their catalogue to still be relevant in this day and age. As hard as Easy and the boys were at the time, they found a way to make murder music that you could actually dance to.

On their freshman album the group stuck to pointing out the vast discrepancies between the America blacks and whites were a part of. 'Express Yourself' is the best (and funkiest) attempt at communicating that gulf.

Side Note: Easy told Dre he needed to stop worrying about the beats and focus on his lyrics. After listening to the album in it's entirety for the first time, he told Dre to stop worrying about his lyrics altogether, as his beats were better than anything he had ever heard. Totally true story.

2. 'I Aint No Joke' by Eric B. & Rakim (HERE)

I missed the 9 months prior, but i can distinctly remember hearing, watching and experiencing the birth of modern lyricism.

I had fallen asleep on the couch while watching Friday Night Videos with my mom, when I was awakened by Eric B.'s sparse beat over maniacal scratching. Within seconds the screen was filled with a young, fresh-dressed, brash and completely serious figure that proceeded to beat me over the head with originality, insight and verbal dexterity here-to-fore unseen.

The MC was Rakim, the video was for 'I Ain't No Joke' and, as I felt it might, music history was being made before my eyes. This and Thriller are the only two videos that I can recall where I was when I saw them the first time. And this is the only one that I remember what I was wearing! It was that meaningful to me...and still is.

Side Note: My mother threw away the cassette because I played it too much. One of maybe disagreements, of any kind, I ever had with my mother.

Well, that brings us to #1, which because of it's exclusion thus far, becomes rather obvious.

1. 'Rebel Without A Pause' by Public Enemy (HERE)

Here is my feeble attempt to explain how whole-heartedly I loved and love this song:


Side Note: Flavor Flav is a charlatan these days, but is universally considered a very serious and accomplished musician, adept at more than 10 instruments. Harry Allen has written for everyone. Chuck D has a very successful syndicated political talk radio show.

SN2: If you watch this clip you will get goodies through the roof, including: a television commercial for LL's 'Bad' album and a clearly-uncomfortable Don Cornelius, interviewing a group he has no idea how to categorize. Really fully-representative of the times.

Honorable Mention

'Manifest' by Gangstarr (HERE)

Released in November of 1989, the album made it to the Midwest in early 1990. The track 'Manifest' would otherwise easily be in the top 5.

I 'm certain I have a few glaring ommisions, but this was not meant to be scholarly and just like good hip-hop, was done entirely off the dome.

COMING ONE DAY...15 More from the 1990's, aka the Golden Era.


Arthritic xoxo!

In 1989, a group approached what was a then relatively new design company, about the various troubles many, within their customer base, were experiencing with onset of arthritis.

The design company, Smart Designs, was less than 10 years old at the time, but it's founders had already burnished reputations as people that "think outside the box."

Smart Design visited hospitals and doctors' offices across the country to observe arthritic people and watch what frustrated them the most. After much observation, they moved to the interview phase and found what they had learned through observation to be "poppycock."

While conventional wisdom of the time said suffers of arthritis are frustrated by getting around, the real anger for those suffers flared at their inability to "grab things."

It was uncomfortable and difficult to:
  • Grab a walker to assist in walking.
  • Grab a railing to go up stairs.
  • Grab a wheel to drive.
  • Grab the basic utensils and tools one needs in a daily routine.

The pain of bending knee and hip-joints was very real...unbelievably real. But frustration, that came from the inability to grab, or hold onto once you did, the things that surrounded them.

Smart Design went to work. Within three months they created a non-slip handle for walk-assisting devices. The handle was much easier on the hand and did not hurt when the full weight of the patient bared down on them. They had solved a complex problem in short order and were just about ready for the congratulatory lap around the stadium, to the warm applause of a thankful audience.

But a question in the closing meeting with the client changed everything. Someone had the audacity to ask, "Why Stop There?"

After very little debate, the challenge was accepted...provided the client would continue to fund the research and would be interested in distributing the finished products.

All parties agreed and every person in the Smart Design firm was placed on this one project. The sole purpose of which was, to improve the everyday lives of people suffering from arthritis.

They were told to go home and try to function each day with "your hands in a claw, unable to squeeze (like making a "c")." See what problems arise and come back to work each morning with thoughts and solutions you may have found.

Within 9 months, they were ready to share their findings with their client company. And, perhaps more importantly, introduce a few products they thought "might interest the arthritic community."

Smart Designs client was a company called OXO International, and the product they developed became "GOOD GRIPS," the most award-winning line of housewares products in the history of the industry.

Additionally, the product line is so revolutionary in it's functionality, it has escaped the medical realm and now boasts millions of perfectly healthy evangelists around the world...including the author of this article.

Let's Innovate, America!

View more of the amazing Good Grips line of products HERE


News That Made Me Go "HA!"

This weeks news that made me laugh (or cry):

Disney Admits 'Baby Einstein' isn't Educational

So you mean to tell me that if I plunk down $20 of my hard earned cash for a DVD of a screen saver with elevator music, then park my kid in front of the television for 90 minutes a day, instead of personally interacting with them, my baby won't get smart?

I swear, sometimes the best joy in my life comes from stories like this. EVERY single parent I know fell for this. And parents I didn't know (or care to) recommended it to me, without my having solicited their opinion. This was such an unexpected gift, I feel I am indebted to Disney for the rest of my life. Perhaps the playgrounds across America will start to fill up again.

Cost-Cutting Forces Hawaii Schools to Four Day School Week

Finally, something positive has happened for the kids!

In a Recession that has impacted children across the world, good news beckons from the Pineapple capital. There have been numerous studies showing the economic downturn had increased hunger, abuse, confusion, psychological instability and homelessness on children in disproportionate numbers.

Not only did the Great Recession force closure of schools for one day a week, but the Almighty went one step further by making that day FRIDAY! There are many things it takes years of life experiences and maturity to grasp, Three-Day Weekend ain't one of them!

Bronson Pinchot is in the News

So Tom Cruise hated Gays 20 years ago and Denzel Washington was a bad person 17 years ago. that is news? Hilarious!!!!

Balkii has been completely under a rock for so long, I expect we'll next get his great inside gossip on that venerable dramatist, John Wilkes Booth!

The only reason people are giving the story any gravity is because he is name-dropping. Nobody cares what this man had to say before last week, not even Cousin Larry!

Give me a BREAK!

Sam Worthington is Christian Bale

It seemed that Christian Bale was the choice for every major movie with an important male lead over the last few years (sorry Shia LaBeouf). But success in Hollywood mean hard, hard falls from grace. Don't cry for Christian, he is still getting plum roles. but clearly the tide has shifted.

Sam Worthington, who, ironically, had his biggest role in the film that slowed Bales' career, Terminator:Salvation, is Hollywood's new Man of the Hour.

Mr. Worthington will be the lead in what I think is this years most important (with sincere apologies to Black Dynamite) film, James Cameron's 'Avatar.' Then you'll get more Sammy in Clash of the Titans next summer, then 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, next Fall. If that is not enough of the Aussie for you then, I am pleased to announce...

He just go the lead in the highly-anticipated Mad Max sequel, Fury Road.

Stop, drop and roll brother, cause you're on PHI-YAHHH!

Well that's enough of this lame excuse for a blog post. But as you know, the Saturday paper is always the thinnest on information.

See you on Monday.


Star-Crossed Lovers

Being a resident of Ohio ("the farthest northern state in The South), comes with a price at times. One of them is rather frequent encounters with entrenched southern symbolism. Everything from ceramic mammies, Nigger Jim lawn jockeys and door-stops, minstrel-like advertisements that still hang in more rural areas and, perhaps most ominously, Confederate Flags...everywhere.

The Confederate Flag is a highly polarizing (don't understand why), exceptionally controversial (do know why), reasonably off-limits (why I am writing about it) subject. There seems, to me, to be a wholesale acceptance by otherwise reasonable people of this symbol as, minimally, a Southern "institution" and therefore, not really subject to national discussion.

I beg to differ!

The Civil War (or "War of Northern Aggression" if you live below the Mason-Dixon line) was not fought "to end slavery," as so many still believe to this day. The war was instigated and fought to preserve the idea and practice of slavery, which was threatened by a sweeping election victory of the (Northern) Republican Party, led by President Abraham Lincoln in 1860.

This prompted long-time Unionist, "true American" and eventual President of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis to relinquish his seat in the United States Senate and return to his plantation.

Before the start of the war Davis would write that the old United States was founded on the "false pretense" that all men were created equal. Continuing:

"The Confederacy, by contrast, is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; it's
foundations are laid, it's cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the
negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the
superior race, is his natural and moral condition. This, our new Government,
is the first, in the history of the world, based on this great physical,
philosophical, and moral truth

So much time, money, research and scrubbing have gone into diminishing this
FACT. Instead, there seems to be a wholesale acceptance to a new Mythology:
One of "Northern Aggression" and "State's Rights" and protecting the "flower
of the South," white women, who were increasingly "under attack." The
problem with all of these theories are...they lack evidence.

  1. When you go to war, the other side tends to be aggressive, thus the Northern Aggression argument.

  2. If the country goes about outlawing a practice within it's borders and you want to keep the practice alive in your state, I guess you would then be for State's Rights.

  3. If there had been, ever (I mean EVER), an instance of wide-spread (medium or small-spread, too) attacks on white women, by black men, in the South (or anywhere else) we would not only have heard about it, but still hear it as often as the out of place O.J. Simpson references that fall from the lips of commentators from time to time.

So what we are talking about is a War, proactively instigated by southern anticipation of change. Or as we would call it in 2009, "YOU LIE!!!" Syndrome.

Seven, then ultimately eleven, States chose to separate, fight and kill residents of, the United States of America. With the hope of bringing it's existence to an tidy end. They elected their own government, established their own capital (actually three), raised their own army, printed and distributed their own money and, to represent this "clean break from villainy," created their own flag.

When the public was asked for feedback on flag designs from a Alabama newspaper, the overwhelming response was to "leave it alone." So many respondents objected to the idea of a flag other than the Stars & Stripes, the new government was forced to keep the process in house.
The first national flag of the Confederacy, designed and made by a Prussian immigrant, Nicola Marschall, was raised on March 4, 1861. According to many Southern newspapers, this was done to great cheers and hoopla. However, more than a few accounts mention scores of "white men openly weeping as Old Glory (U.S. Flag) was taken down, as many of them had fought for the military under it's banner."

Another witness at the ceremony put it in more stark terms. Mary Boykin
Chestnut wrote:

"We stood on the balcony to see our Confederate flag go up. Roar of the cannon,
etc. Miss Saunders complained of the deadness of the mob. 'It was spiritless.'
'No cheering, or so little - no enthusiasm.'"

The flag raised that day, the new flag of the Confederacy, looked like this:

Not what you expected, I know. It was not what I expected either. My research has turned up so many inconsistencies and homogenized myths about the Confederacy, I may actually have to write more on the subject later.

Anyway, the more familiar flag. The one hanging in the South "You Lie!!!" Carolina capital, the one's I encounter so frequently and you, hopefully, less frequently, is the Battle Flag of the Confederacy.

this flag was only used in battles against the North (ie America/this government/U.S. citizens) in the Civil War. The flag was not universally used, as only two secessionist States (Virginia and Tennessee) and Kentucky (never seceded) adopted the flag for it's regiments.

Other little known facts about this Battle flag:

  • The flag was not rectangular, as you see it today, but square. The initial flag was meant to look the same, but with a vertical cross (religious people opposed it because of the symbolism of the cross),separating four equal quarters, so the cross was flipped on its side to make an "x" instead of a "t". The rectangular version came about after the war.

  • They put 13 stars on the flag, even though only 11 States seceded. The other two were for Kentucky, which never seceded, and Missouri, which did, but were not allowed to joined the Confederacy because Lincoln sent federal troops their early on to "change the sentiment."

  • Due to embargoes on the South, red dye was limited, so early flags were made of PINK instead. Orange was used on a few occasions and frequently, flags were made "much smaller" than regulation because a lack of material.

  • After the war, so few people knew of, or recognized, the flag, it was not generally used throughout the South in ceremony. It took it's adoption by the United Confederate Veterans to bring the flag to light in much of the South and bolster it's popularity.

  • The Battle flag was virtually unknown in the north until stories from recently migrating freed blacks told of terror campaigns and the flags adoption by the Night Riders and Ku Klux Klan in the 1870's.

So what we have here is a flag that is built around the totally false mythology of chivalry, political disagreement and "protecting" their homeland. When in actuality it was used by a group:

  1. That wanted to put an end the United States of America.

  2. Killed Americans in that quest.

  3. Whose sympathizers killed an American president (Lincoln)

  4. Has been adopted by terrorist groups WITHIN THE BORDERS of The United States of America.

And I am meant to respect and accept it as "a part of our American culture?"

I think not!

Imagine, if you will, encountering one of the many convenience stores throughout big-city America, owned and operated by recent immigrants to this country. What would be the national pulse if they chose to hang the flag of Japan (WWII), Korea, Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan in front of their stores every morning? I think so as well.

The Confederacy was not a part of America, it's government was only formally recognized for 35 minutes, long enough to sign the Documents of Surrender. So how did this thing become a part of our national heritage? The short answer is, it hasn't and it shouldn't!

Symbolism is too important to allow to go unchecked (see swastika for more info) and I think it's time we put this great (not really) national (not really) mythology (really) to rest.

Besides, most people only care about that thing because of the Dukes of Hazzard!


Alone in the Dark

He awoke from a restless night's sleep without his usual pep, only to find he had made his start two hours early.

Undeterred, he slipped on his shoes, drank a glass of milk and proceeded to his oven. He was sure the problem had more to do with temperature rather then ingredients. If he could only find the right thermal hot spot in his oven, oh how that would change everything.

At 6:45 am he started at 300 degrees Fahrenheit, slowly increasing the fire inside his oven with a steady eye fixed upon his concoction. By 11:30 he had burned, split or dissolved entirely, every single recipe. That was it! No more for a while, he exclaimed! Besides it was time for lunch.

Always the lifeblood of any group he was around, especially his special collection of co-workers he ate lunch with each day, this day he found none of his usual humor. There was only "that bloody oven." Breaking custom, for no work was discussed at lunch - EVER, he decided to open up about his frustration. How could He, of all people, be going about something as simple as thermal control the wrong way?

This silence that fell upon the luncheon party was rightly read as discomfort and confusion, forcing him to wave it all off, crack a few jokes and change the mood. Nothing else was to be said of ovens and flames and setbacks. Though after lunch, his best friend approached him with an idea. He had been having setbacks in the oven with those very ingredients for a separate experiment, so had switched materials, and with reasonable success.

With that, he set off a double the pace. Not because he was excited by the prospects of a breakthrough, but instead to remove the experiment from his mind so he could get back to the job at hand.

Widely thought to be in possession of the world largest ingredient library, he stood amongst his large library of thousands of jars, wondering just where to start. He remembered his friend's mention of carbon, but wanted to start elsewhere. After 20 minutes of collecting various jars from the catalogue, he remembered that he was to remove the suggestion of his friend, so he grabbed several jars of carbon in various forms. And that is where he would start.

On his very first attempt with the carbon, he saw improvement, something he could not deny elicited excitement throughout his body. He would spend the next six hours improving upon the stability of his experiment, until finally at 7:30 he was ready for a test trial.

He gathered his laboratory team around for the trial, and though they were all prayerful and knew none were his intellectual equal, they also understood what was being attempted was impossible. All light in the room was extinguished, and...

On this day, October 21st, in the year 1879, Thomas Alva Edison broke the darkness with the world's first, stable, incandescent bulb.

It burned for 13.5 hours straight, while everyone in the lab could not avert their gaze. They were watching not just an invention that would drastically reduce the cost of illuminating the dark, but it shone so bright, much brighter than candle or gas lamps. And where were the fumes? Almost as a throwaway, one of the lab assistants mentioned that people could sleep soundly for the first time in human history without the threat of fire.

Of course, none of this mattered to Edison. Nothing at all mattered to him on that cold New Jersey evening. Nothing, save the fact that he had educed from himself, for the first time, something he thought he could not.

Let's innovate America!


Apple Does It Again

An apple brought an end to Paradise, put Snow White to sleep and is probably, in the form of apple carts, one of the enduring images of the Great Depression. This economic downturn has its apple, too. And it may be the apple that shows the rest of the business community how to move forward out of stagnation.

Apple announces quarterly earnings today that shocked the world. The headline in the Wall Street Journal says it all:

Apple Shares Hover Near All-Time High After Strong Earnings

This from a consumer electronics company...in the middle of the worst economy of the electronic era...with negative savings rates in all but 6 of the 71 countries where it's products are sold...and consumer credit at an all-time low!

What Apple is showing us, time and again, is INNOVATION IS KING.

As a company, Apple had the lions share of the digital music device by early-2003, with it's iPod music player. That is good enough for most companies (see Sony Walkman for references), but not Apple. Since it's launch, the iPod has been reinvented several times, and for several reasons.

First, the device was improved to bring enhanced performance and additional storage. Then it was made smaller, for convenience. Then additional versions were developed for: Charity (red), Active Lifestyles (nano) and Entry-Level Access (shuffle).

Soon movie/ video-playing versions would come, to be followed by the current generation of iPod, Touch, which, along with the iPhone, is being viewed as the biggest gaming development platform in foreseeable future and the new Nano w/ camera.

All of this innovation is driven, not by the market, as capitalist like to say, but instead, by Apple anticipating the desires of current and potential customers. These subtle shifts have allowed Apple to remain the dominant force in this category, in all price-points and all demographics.

Pretty good for a device (iPod) has not celebrated it's 10th birthday, and will not do so until October 23rd...2011.

Yes, that would mean this company was bold enough to launch a new signature product in the Fall of 2001, after the September 11 attacks of that year on it's biggest market, the United States.

Developing a good thing from scratch affords you the confidence to have a reasonable idea of the success of the product. So you can quintuple that confidence when the product is being developed by the most innovative company in the world. Naysayers do not sway this company.

The Apple iTunes store (used to support their products) was announced to widespread doubt from the music industry. It took 5 years to sell 1 Billion songs and in the subsequent 3.5 years they have sold an additional 7.5 Billion songs.

The motion-picture industry said people like to see movies on large screens, so doubted Apple would be successful in selling movies in the iTunes store. They have since sold over 50 Million music videos, 3.7 Million feature-length movies and 200 Million television episodes.

The introduction of it's revolutionary phone device, the iPhone, have only strengthened the supremacy of the iTunes store. It took less than 25 months from it's initial launch to reach 2 Billion App downloads.

With the almost slam-dunk certainty of Apple launching an e-reading device in the next 6-12 months, iBooks will, no doubt, take the company to new, higher ground.

So perhaps others can pay attention to the company that does what everyone says is a bad idea. Because innovation and invention is the only way out of this mess. For as they say, "An Apple a day..."

(I refrained from the Pixar people being told nobody wanted to see animation that was not 2-D, because Steve Jobs owned the company, not Apple. but it bears mentioning that Pixar films average nearly $315 Million per release, by FAR the industry leader)

Video inspiration courtesy of Rocko:


Fools Rush In

Much was made over the past few weeks about a bid, by ultra-conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh, to purchase the indescribably bad National Football League franchise in St. Louis.

Hordes of folks came out of the woodwork (literally and figuratively) to condemn, block, threaten, picket, write, march and/ or do anything else that would prevent Rush from using his own money to purchase the Rams.

Callers jammed talk radio phone lines, television commentators found a plethora of willing souls, ready to "man up" before the cameras, to stop this "national embarrassment" from happening. Most laughably, a few professional athletes, not known to speak out about ANYTHING EVER, took to the mic, saying they "would not play in St. Louis," should Rush become an owner of that franchise.

I could see it now, the strong determined look upon their faces as they accepted retirement and the loss of hundreds of thousands (or millions) of dollars, instead of accepting a contract from the only team willing to pay them. Does anyone really believe any professional sports franchise, in any sport, will have a hard time filling out a roster...with professional athletes? Me either.

The woodwork refers to the Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, emerging from the (Presidential Election-induced) Cone-of-Silence, to "stand up" and "fight" for what they felt was a slap in the face of minorities and women. This was especially telling, in that, for the first time in their storied careers, they were covered as an almost afterthought. America is far from being a post-racial society, but the television punditry world has already decided to agree that it is.

Don't get me wrong, I hoped he wouldn't be allowed the prestige (that is what this is all really about) of joining one of the most exclusive clubs in the world, NFL owner. But that's kind of as far as I took it.

When Jim Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts, spoke up against the idea, saying he thinks "a higher form of decency" should be required for admission, I applauded. When I heard he personally sat with NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, to explain he would never vote yes, under any circumstance AND actively campaign against the proposal to other owners, my applause became a standing ovation. Such ethics are hard to find in the strata of the hyper-wealthy.

Jim Irsay's stand differed from all others in that, he was a member of the organization Mr. Limbaugh was attempting to join. Everybody else had a very clear path to showing their displeasure with a team owned by a bigoted, woman-hating charlatan...not supporting that team.

Anybody that thinks they can turn a profit on a product that requires millions of people to support it financially by appealing to a White-American-Male-Uneducated-Rural-Usually Poor fan base, to the exclusion of all immigrants, minorities and women, is living on another planet...or inside a booth or something for the better part of the day. Uh...oh.

Anyway, I think the hype on the part of Rush and the part the dissenting millions was false, pithy and convenient. For if you really want to go after the fool, here is a recipe.


When Rush Hudson Limbaugh III picks up his $40 MILLION paycheck at the beginning of each year (yes he is paid before he works), his check is imprinted with the name : Capital Cities/ABC.

Now avoiding this company will be kind of hard, as it is wholly owned by...The Walt Disney Company!

So that means:
No more theme-parks, no more Lost , Scrubs, Grey's or Ugly Betty (ABC).
No more Broadway productions (Walt Disney Theatrical).
No more Desperate Housewives (ABC), College Football Game of the Week (ESPN/ABC), Hannah Montana or Jonas Brothers (Disney Channel/Disney Music).
No Nickelodeon, High School Musical (Disney Channel), Snow White, Lady and the Tramp (Disney Pictures Classic).
No Monday Night Football, SportsCenter or sports talk radio (ESPN)
No more Mickey, Minnie or Goofy (Disney Consumer Products).
No more Marvel comics (recently acquired) or Tarantino (Mirimax).
No Rascal Flatts or SHeDAISY (Lyric Street Records), Los Lobos (Mammoth Records).

And because the 2006 sale of Pixar to Disney made Steve Jobs the largest shareholder of Walt Disney Company stock, no more of the most consistently well-made movies in the business...or Apple (iPhone, MacBooks, iPod) for that matter.

And so on...

Since there is no way you are ready to take such a stance, why not use your time, energy and intelligence on more useful endeavours (like coming back to reading this blog).

Rush Limbaugh had lost his "shine" over the past 6 months. Overshadowed by his far more idiotic counterpart, Glen Beck, who spent the summer months asking for (and receiving!!!) the resignation of several high-profile persons in the Obama administration. With his glacier-sized ego being melted by the greenhouse gases he denies exist, this was his masterstroke in reclaiming the hearts of those fringe elements that have sustained him for so long.

And thanks to all the uproar, he succeeded.