Friday, January 26, 2007

When Spam Filters Rock

Every once in a while, a person's spam filter can be too zealous. We have all had experiences where an important email -- or at least an interesting one -- was erroneously dumped into our bulk folder. Because of this I occassionally peek at mine. Not as often as I should because it's like sifting through a huge dumpster of solicitations, catalogs, and take-out menus searching for that one letter from Publisher's Clearinghouse. But every once in a while I recover something that should not have been dumped alongside the pitches for Cialis and Photoshop (neither of which I need.)

Today, I thought I found one of profound interest. The subject line: Muslims complain of Hollywood "bad guy" image. I experience a fleeting second of joy. So glad I caught this, I think, because these kinds of articles are right up my alley. Oh, however, did this sender Prado Tagouhi know to send this to me? (Yes, folks, the sarcasm has commenced.)

I open it up and find the misspelling-rifed spam for some crap that I can't identify because I'm not gulilble enough to click on the link.

And just in case that didn't doesn't offend me enough, I look to see that ol' Prado (not his real name, I know) had emailed this spam to As many of you know, I co-founded a nonprofit organization called Chica Luna Productions, and among our various initiatives, we are developing a media justice toolkit focused on popular entertainment. That is, we are creating a series of tools for teaching how to deconstruct the films you see at the multiplex, the programs you watch on primetime, or the urban fiction you cop from the street vendor on 125th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard (that's Lenox Avenue for all the gentrifiers) for their socio-political messages. I'm heading up this initiative, and Chica Luna created the email alias of my own CL address.

Oh, and let me not forget to mention that as the spammer trawled the Chica Luna website for email addresses, it assigned my media justice alias a new name: Rahman Katrina. No, gente, I did not make that up. And I bet anything that that email address used to send this offending spam does not belong to "Prado Tagouhi" but to some other innocent person whose website has been stalked for its email addresses. I know this because I've fallen victim to because of my Black Artemis website. I receive hundreds of undeliverable emails at my Black Artemis account that I never sent because spammers have combed my website, captured my aliases and used them to spam other people fortunate enough to have spam filters as strong if not stronger than mine.

So in the end, I can't be frustrated with my spam filter for sorting out a message with the subject line Muslims complain of Hollywood "bad guy" image. It apparently went past the subject line into the body of the email to uncover trash and relegate to my bulk folder. This time it did its job. However, I'm upset that spamming has fallen to a new low where the perpetrators actually take the time to consider the source of the email address and create subject lines that might actually get their gibberish read.

Ya'd like to think that someone who had the time and intelligence to do that would use them for something more productive.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Pope of Hip Hop

Paraphrases from a telephone conversation I had this afternoon with another conscious hip hop head.

Cee: . . . You're working on another book now, right?

Me: Yeah, I just finished a first but rough pass of the next novel to be published under my real name. But now I'm trying to finish the proposal for the fourth Black Artemis novel. Oh, and I think I told you that I'm working on graphic novel series. That's going to be a Black Artemis joint, too.

Cee: A graphic novel series?

Me: Yeah, three parts if I have my way.

Cee (teasing): You writing about thugs and penises and. . .

Me: (chuckling 'cause Cee knows damn well what I am and am not about) Nah, it's straight up revenge noir where sistas wreck havoc on the misogynists in the hip hop industry. But, you know, it's really about violence begetting violence, and what happens when women emulate the vices of men and all that. Like can we really achieve equality and justice by doing the same dirt that's done to us? So don't be skeered.

Cee (laughing): Oh, I'm not scared. See, I got my. . . what do they call that? Uh, it's a Christian term for when. . .

Me: Don't ask me.
Cee: . . . Like I got all my misogyny forgiven. What do they call that again? Not saved but. . .

Me: You've been redeemed.

Cee: Yeah, I went to the pope of hip hop, confessed my sins, and he said I'm cool.

Me: (laughing) The Pope of the Church of Hip Hop absolved you, bro!

Cee (laughing): Yeah! I've been absolved. So I'm straight.

Me (seriously): Yo, so who is the pope of hip hop these days?

Cee: I don't know. It's always changing

Me: Word. . . And somehow the dude's always self-appointed.

Cee: At the rate things are going, and if that's what it takes, it might as well be Russell.

Me: Please. I'm too done with him.

Cee: I ain't trying to hear nothing he has to say no more.

Me: Or freakin' Kimora. Talking about bringing fabulosity to Africa. You know, sometimes some of these people, it's like their stupidity makes sense. Like I hear the stupid things they say, and I think, "OK, I get how you could think that makes sense. You know, how that makes senses in your mind." But then someone [like Kimora] says something that's so outrageous, so clueless, so damned insensitive, it's, like, can you really be that stupid?. That don't make sense even for your stupid ass.

Cee: Yeah, we're not trying to hear Russell. And we're not trying to hear Ben Chavis.

Me: No. I bet if you were to ask KRS, he'd say it he was the Pope of Hip Hip. You know, with his Temple of Hip Hop. (Laugh) But that sounds like some cult to me.

Cee (seriously): It is!

Me: For real?

Cee: You should hear some of them cats.

Me: Ah, I didn't know! That's the thing though. I never really hear anything about them.

Cee: Well, they're out on the west coast. Kris ain't in the Bronx no more.

Me: Oh, I figured that, but I had no idea he was out there. Still you'd think we would here from them, you know. If they're actually building something, we should know about it even here.