Thursday, April 30, 2009


...but I'm taking off the rest of the week and preparing for a Root Down spring cleaning next week where I'll be basically flushing the proverbial mental toilet each day (don't know if "mental toilet" has ever been proverbial). That's right: seven days, seven posts. Maybe more. It's been much too busy lately to dedicate too much time to The Root Down so we're going to re-establish the brand starting on Sunday. Stay tuned, piggy.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Last night, as the Bruise Bros. dropped two games to Crazy Train (yes, and they don't come out to "Crazy Train"--crazy, right?) and the Revolution (how narcissistic do you have to be?), I came to the fully qualified, undeniable truth that umpires suck.

I've seen and heard almost everything in my years in these city leagues, but last night was a new one for me. Missed calls happen. You almost plan on it happening. Assume you're going to get about two a game. Sometimes it's more and, miraculously, sometimes it's less. Last night, it was much more than less. First game was pretty cleanly called, but the second game reached a new level of ridiculousness and absurdity.

I step into the batters box and prepare for a pitch. In our league, you start with one ball and one strike. It makes the game go faster. First pitch crosses the plate a tad high. Umpire calls a strike. Disagree as I may, I usually will let one strike pass, but never a second. Second pitch crosses the plate at somewhere between my eyes and my chin. Umpire calls strike three. I mouth off to him in my disappointment and arrive back in the dugout to an entire team letting him hear it.

Second time I get up, he calls an obvious strike a ball and when I look back at him, he grins at me and begins laughing. Now, I realize that when you're getting paid in pinto to call games, it's probably not the first thing you're jumping to do on a Tuesday night, but if you show, it's our job to play the game and it's the umps job to call it and make sure it's a fair game for all participants. When I'm getting toyed with at the plate by an ump who is obviously taking pleasure in his jokery in, what was otherwise a close game against the only remaining undefeated team in the league, you bet I'm going to take objection. I shook my head and took a hack at the next pitch for a lazy base hit to left. In the end, we lost by six runs to the number one team in the league, the Revolution. Afterwards, the ump came by to visit with us. I just stood there idly as he approached.

"Hey, at least I was consistent."

I quickly replied, "You were consistently unpredictable. You didn't call a single pitch correctly all night. That pitch you called me out on was at my eyes."

"If it's close I'm going to call it."

"That wasn't close, bro. I'll tell you this, I don't look at two strikes. I swing at some junk so know that I won't strike out looking."

"I call those as strikes because I want you all to swing. It gets boring back there for me. I want ya'll to swing the bat."

After this jackassery, I've officially heard it all. The guy calls everything a strike so that we'll swing the bat because he gets bored. Guess I was wrong when I was thinking that he's out there to offer a service for us. It's the other way around, we're out there to entertain him and make sure he doesn't get bored. Had I known this term going into the game, I would've done a handstand or the arm dance. I didn't know it was our job to entertain him.

This begs the question, if he's going to call everything a strike, then what in the hell do we need him for? We'll call the pitches on our own, in that case and he can be a second field ump.

Let's get this straight, here. The field umps primary job is to make judgements of the pitches crossing the plate. The strike zone is typically represented by the width of the plate horizontally and about the belly button of the batter vertically. It's not law but it's a guide. For the ump, his job is to be the eyes that makes that call. Last night's strike zone was five feet wide and four feet tall. The only thing that was consistent with the rules of every other game was that if it hit the plate, it was an automatic ball. Everything else was fair game and the dumbass admitted it afterwards. Good job.

So, I've officially come to the conclusion that umpires suck. They either suck or they're your drinking buddy and you'll get calls that normally you wouldn't. The Roundhouse doesn't hang out with these pricks. So, they suck. What sucks even more is that with our fees that we pay the league, these guys get paid out of that. It's like paying someone five bucks to punch you in the face...every week.

In other news, the C's (on the shoulders of Paul Pierce) took a 3-2 lead over the Bulls in the third overtime game in the series' first five games. Sox lost their first game in 11 games. I'm tired and feeling slightly ill. Getting ready to go to work and spread it like wildfire.

That's a joke.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


You know, sometimes, I just think of how blessed I am to have such a talented family. Uncle Pantera (Donovan Stokes) and the Shenandoah Bass Ensemble in a recent performance. Uncle Pantera is the man far left in the blood red necktie. Yeah, dude's a beast on the bass. In fact, all these cats kill.

Man, the coffee is good this morning. I topped off an evening of softball with a 10:15 bag of Weinerschnitzel. Remind me next time that I'm too old to be jamming that stuff that late in the evening. I feel so dehydrated this morning. I had two kraut dogs and two chili dogs. Might want to skip lunch today to let my body ketchup, eh, catch up. We had to forfeit the first game because were only able to field six players. Second game we got run-ruled, but if there's a respectable way to get run-ruled, we found it. We lost 18-2. I don't like losing more than the next guy, but realize too, that some games were just not meant to be won. The Bobs are some pricks, though. F'real. I don't mind losing, but losing to mouthy dudes like them really sucks. I refused to shake hands just on principle.

So, Jax developed a skin tag a while back. In fact, he's had the same one twice now. First time, it disappeared leaving a bit of a bloody mess. My speculation is he lost it in horseplay with his brother Tux. It popped up on his cheek close to his nose. There goes his modelling career. I mean, beauty marks don't cast shadows. This thing almost grew legs and began walking. Jax had to have double portions of food because this thing had a stomach of its own. First time around, Koolz thought it was a tick when he thumped it or attempted to yank it from his head. I told Koolz, "That's no tick, that's a tag." They're weird little bastards.

This one I named "Thelonious." Or was it "Montgomery." Hmm. The name escapes me. My lovely wife said that I was so weirded out about it that I started disowning Jax. I'll be honest, some days it made it difficult for him to look at. Especially when he would lay on it and then wake up and it's standing on end. One day, I started investigating on how to remove skin tags off of animals. One place suggested freezing it with ice, tie it off at the bottom with dental floss and then just snip it off with nail clippers. Sounded easy enough.

One Saturday morning, I wake up and decide that this was the morning I was going to just yank it off. I was thinking about a more abrupt and painful walk-up-and-pinch-it-and-start-walking-in-the-opposite-direction method. The key is the element of surprise. Jax was fast asleep with his mother in bed...a Saturday morning tradition. I walk in, tear back the covers to see Jax and grab his mouth and what befell me? The tag walked in the middle of the night. Just took off. No "Dear John" or anything. So the tag is gone everyone. Nothing to worry about anymore. You can pet him again without having to favor his right side for fear of brushing against it.

Today's Earth Day. I think we send the wrong message when you call it "Earth Day" like we shouldn't be protecting the Earth everyday. If you're going to do anything for a duration, you have to dedicate more than a day's practice to it. I guess I'll celebrate by doing what I always do, hop on a bike and dare every moron in a vehicle that's much too large for their needs and ride to work. Maybe today, I'll ask someone in an Executioner to roll down their window and then I'll snidely say, "I ride my bike to conserve gas so you have more to guzzle in that earthcrusher you drive to work everyday by yourself. You need to either get a bike and start making some friends so you can increase the occupancy of your bus there."

I guess you could say that I did something green, however, I didn't do it to save the Earth. I made some speakers out of cardboard boxes. One was a promo box I got at work from Super D/Phantom and the other was a cheese box my lovely wife picked up at the health food store.

They work like a gem, but the cheese box is having a little issue with the low end. I'm going to have to tweak the wiring just a little bit. Might be a slight short. Anyhow, not as fashionable as the sleek speakers on the market, but they'll do the trick.

I'm out. Today's Administrative Professionals Day so be nice to your helpful hand at work.

Friday, April 17, 2009


So, Koolz (formerly Kool Aid) told me he didn't visit The Root Down anymore because there were too many posts about music (more specifically) hip hop and since he didn't know anything about hip hop (and apparently didn't want to), he decided to complain to the author. It's not like I have a staff like, "Hey, j4, I need that humor column for Wednesday. j7, you were chasing down that story on Billy Ocean, what's the status? j2, when are you gonna be down with that sports column?" It's just me, duke. I can't please everyone every time. But I'll do my best. Geez, "too much hip hop"--didn't think it was possible. Maybe it is for a guy who warms up for Roundhouse softball by watching Selma Blair movies. Whatta softie. Apparently, he didn't read the post below this where I publicly admit to almost strangling a teenager. He probably would've liked that one. But too many posts about the best recordings ever. Gotcha.

Well, Angry Tim and I visited the wonderful Hill Country on Wednesday on some business. We didn't have the rapping flight attendant. Both of us were kinda bummed. You kinda feel bad for a guy with a schtick like that because you know, he can never not do it from here on. If he just wanted to do the instructions normal, someone would be yelling at him, "C'mon man, I came here to see your ass rap! So rap!" If I met him, I'd want him to rap everything.

Like when he came by and asked me what I wanted to drink, "Sir, coffee, water, cocktail?" I'd just say to him, "Try it again, homie." He'd stand there dumbfounded and then I'd just say, "I need you to rap it, dude." Then I'd start beatboxing for him. That's what I'd do if I met the rapping flight attendant.

I almost didn't make it anywhere because my license was expired. Yep, expired more than a month ago. How in the hell am I supposed to remember that? I get a tetanus more often than I need to renew my license. I was in the security line at the Yellow airport and the woman's looking at my license and she said, "I'll let you board even though your license is expired." I laugh at her like she's joking. I then look at it and sure as sure is, it's expired.

So, how am I going to get a rental in Austin? I walk up to the counter and hand my confirmation and driver's license over to the man. He then says, moments later, "Okay, all I need from you is a written statement saying that you'll bring the car back by 6:00 and a valid driver's license." Confirming what I heard, I reply with, "So just a written statement saying I'll bring it back? Like I just write it out on a piece of paper?" He nods. "Okay, I can do that and, uh, you have my license." He says, "Yeah, I need a valid driver's license." I say, "Uh, valid? That's the only license I have, bro." He then tells me what I already know. "The computer didn't accept it because it's expired." Lucky I had Angry Tim there.

As our punishment, they rented us a pearl white PT Cruiser. I swear there are more PT Cruiser's on rental lots than in the garages of America. Nothing absolutely screams "the cool" like flying down the highway in a PT Cruiser.

Tulia, Texas made CNN Headline News this morning because some nincompoop got caught in flash flood waters. The anchor called it two-LEE-uh. It's actually, TUL-ya.

How is it that Wolf is still getting snow? They're expected to get another 20 inches today through tomorrow on top of the 16 that they got two days ago. I wish I lived in the mountains.

Back to the traveling adventures from Wednesday. While we were on board in Dallas, I saw the great Craig James from ESPN's college football broadcasts. I think he dyed his hair. I couldn't think of his name for the life of me. Pretty sharp dresser.I really don't like airports. People are so smug in airports. Everyone dresses like they're going to a formal and make sure they're recognized as someone important so everyone's either banging on a laptop, talking on a phone or walking around talking into one of those Bluetooth headsets. I just sit there and look at the floor. Apparently, though, I'm not as creepy as I used to be because people will actually sit next to me in an empty seat on the plane. I should really grow my terrorist beard back. Creepy comes in handy when you're on a plane. Not when you're looking for a date, but definitely when you're on a plane.

Got locked out of the exit row again. If there's one thing that absolutely pisses me off it's that cat that gets to the exit row before you and he's no more than a buck-twenty and five feet tall. He sits there like he doesn't see your six-foot plus ass walking down the aisle. Like he won't even make eye contact with you. Dude, if you got balls enough to take the most comfortable seat in the plane away from a person who, physically, more deserving than you, I'd be ready to defend it. Cat wouldn't even look at me. He just sat there looking out of the window. Punk. I wouldn't have even trusted this dweeb to be able to open the exit door with his stick arms. We would've all died.

Remember how to exit a plane in the case of emergency. Man, what I would give to do this on a slide out of the side of the plane. I'm just wondering how in the hell you get that much speed to launch like that.
Oh yeah, I guess you're pushed as we see in this image...personally one of my favorite images in the history of emergency instructions on planes.
I also love the disclaimer at the bottom about the color of the slide like if you saw this image without the disclaimer, there would be apprehension if you were looking at a yellow slide. "I don't know, honey. This picture shows it to be grey in color...not yellow. Let's die instead." Apparently, this man is exiting out of the "white" side of the plane. What's up with racist planes? I thought our society had finally moved past this sort of stuff.

ALIENATING MUSIC DISCUSSION WARNING: Went to Waterloo and bought an armful of vinyl. Jimmy Smith, Cannonball Adderley, Funkadelic, Yesterday's New Quintet and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. That's an arsenal of vinyl that you just don't want to play with. We then went next door and enjoyed a pint of ale at the Icehouse. I tell you want, that's a very positive music purchasing experience. I think that every music purchase should be followed by a beer. Love Waterloo. Don't really like the staff. It's alright, though, because they don't help you anyway. They just stay out of your way or avoid you like you're overcome with some horrible disease. When I was paying out, the girl asked me if I needed a bag. You would've thought I asked to dump eighty barrels of toxic chemicals into Lady Bird Lake. Militant greeners who wear dark denim with really small t-shirts: that's the Austin experience. Oh, and apparently body odor is too. Dale and Sarah, no offense to you. You all wear proper fitting clothing and smell good. I think. Can't touch their vinyl offering in Texas though. Except, Pirahna Records in Round Rock had three copies of De La Soul is Dead on vinyl. Angry Tim took one of his hands. I've never seen three copies of that record in one place. Impressive.

Roundhouse got rained out last night. Ugh. I love playing me some Roundhouse softball. Hate it when it gets rained out. I'm with the rest of the team. I feel like Mother Nature's got something against us because every Thursday, it seems, the weather goes south on us. Last night, it was tornados and ping pong ball-sized hail. Can someone give me the exact difference in size between a ping pong ball and a golf ball? I was hearing both reports in fact some hail that was between golf ball and ping pong ball. I thought they were close enough in size that it's either one or the other, but not between.

Spanks lost their first game in the new $1.5 billion dollar-Yankees Stadium. Their bullpen blew a 1-1 game in the seventh losing the game to the Cleveland Indians (who had two wins coming in), 10-2. Awesome stuff.

Sox are heading home to Fenway. Thank gawd. Man, I hate the West Coast. Everytime we go out there, we get absolutely annihilated. Four-set with the Orioles. The East is beastly this year. Orioles, Jays, Rays, Yanks and Sox. That's a division you want no part of.

It's Friday and, oddly, I wish I had a couple of more days this week of work. I'm so behind. Brutal stuff.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


My lovely wife would tell you: it all begins at Wal-Mart. We went to the store last night. Was having a decent time adapting to everything. Some loud kids, a couple of passing Harleys that left my ears ringing. But altogether, I was doing well. I bought three CDs: John Coltrane and Don Cherry's Avant-Garde, Thelonious Monk's Brilliant Corners (which I'm enjoying right now with a Saturday morning coffee) and Dexter Gordon's Dexter's Calling. Looked like the store was doing healthy. If you haven't had a chance to check the $5.99 table at your local Hastings, you probably should. It's the industry-best $5.99 program as far as I'm concerned. Or you could go to Wal-Mart and pay $7-$12. It's up to you. Oh yeah, Wal-Mart's selection sucks so they probably wouldn't have it anyway.

(head explodes)

Just identified a RZA piano loop...heard it on the second song off this Thelonious record. "Cuttin' Headz" from Ol' Dirty Bastard (produced by RZA) contains a piano loop and that loop is from Thelonious' "Ba-lue Bolivar Ba-lues-are." Beautiful way to start off my day. Amazing when you hear that four seconds of beauty in its original state.

We're leaving the store and head down to the crap vaccuum that is Wal-Mart. It seems like, for some odd reason, a large well-lit store like Wal-Mart is like a rat trap for every freaking wad of human trash with a raisin for a brain which is only programmed to either watch endless hours of cars racing in circles or locate a retail establishment that you can pick up both new ice trays, a plant for grandma's trailer and an oil change and tire rotation at the same time. On a Friday night, it's like a night club for white trash. The parking lot is a danger enough because you're licensing nincompoops that can't read a stop sign to drive and morons only know one speed and that's "Vin Diesel." So finding a parking place and doing so without losing your life is the first challenge of the Wal-Mart experience. There's children chasing each other like half-wits (or quarter-wits) while they're lazy parents stand scratching their heads in front of the coffee filter wondering what size their 1985 unit at home is that they bought at a garage sale last weekend.

Now, as I made my way back to sporting goods to locate a new tube for my bike, I hear commotion coming from a few aisles over and walk around the corner to see three, uh, [let's call 'em] teenagers playing dodgeball with small Nerf footballs, kickballs and little beachballs. They're just hurling them through the store. See, at Wal-Mart, you could basically light a fire and it would be probably twenty minutes before anyone would do anything about it. The employees don't care and don't feel entitled to protect their assets. Not only that, they suffer from socialization shortfall so they don't feel confident or assertive enough to confront anyone. You know the shoppers aren't going to say anything because of the incredible amount of sadness each one of them feels pouring their hard-earned money into such a monster. They're just looking for a reason not to shop there. Management is too busy watching their loose-nut employees screw the company's profits away in bad processes and there's not enough security cameras to cover a space the size of a warehouse. Which leads me to how these kids can sit there and basically have a dodgeball tournament in the sporting good section without anyone knowing or, more importantly, caring. So here I am walking the aisle with my lovely wife as we shop for toys for my nephew's Easter basket and I hear the commotion coming closer as they're sprinting through the section. One rounds a corner and I throw my elbow out and hit him in the chest advising him to, "Look out." He keeps on like nothing happened. I'm thinking, at this point, I won't do anything unless something comes close to my lovely wife. I can tolerate it, but if something hits my lovely wife, I'm probably going to jail tonight.

Well, it happened. One soared near my lovely wife's head as I witnessed it from about eight feet away. I round a corner and see the three maggot brains standing there and I walk toward them and they start scurrying away. I come around a corner to meet each of them. I get in this one kid's face and I don't really remember what I said, but he started talking back and dude couldn't even look me in the eye. Whatever I then said was laced with expletives that probably he didn't even understand and would make me blush on second listen, I threatened to whoop his ass if he came anywhere near my lovely wife and then I called him a "retard." Full disclosure here. I'm not necessarily proud of myself, but it was an incident that needs to be recorded. Kid looked like he was about to cry he was so scared. My lovely wife would counsel me after such an incident advising me, firstly, that it's not my job to be the enforcer but I would contest that, in the lawless aisles of Wal-Mart, you bet it is. My lovely wife didn't know what happened at that moment, but I came around the corner proclaiming that I was going to "kill a kid" and she sent me to the penalty box. I picked a bench overlooking some old man's dirty and hairy butt crack leaning over the one-hour photo counter.

Don't get me wrong, I like kids. I really do.

We leave about twenty minutes later and I unload in the car much like I am here. My lovely wife understands my panic, but she doesn't accept it. I really should be better in a Wal-Mart, but I can't do it. Imagine having a paper-thin immune system and being one common cold away from possible death and sitting in a waiting room with an open wound surrounded by thirty coughing mouths. That's what it's like.

But Wal-Mart sparks incredible aggravation. There's a few other things. Let's start with the Texas Tech camo hat. Firstly, I've never seen a graduate wear one of these things. It's a dead giveaway at an imposter Texas Tech fan.

I'm trying to think what outfit this would look good with and I can't define it. Probably because I'm not white trash that enjoys hunting varmint and making jerkey out of my kill. You know what else aggravates me (since we're talking college gear) are the side-to-side back window Texas Longhorn window decals. Again, not something you'll find a lot of graduates macking.
Even better are the moronic OU fans that have the "break 'em off" Longhorn decals on the back of their Broncos like that cat I've seen driving around here in the Yellow. Grow up, duke. I've always had an issue with "tribal" tattoos too.
I like the dialogue that usually occurs around these designs. "What does it mean?" and then the response is, "It's tribal." Tribal? What tribe? What's it tribal for? Maybe "drunk night at the tattoo parlor with an uninspired tattoo artist." I guess for those who have them, it's the mark on your body that says, "I got a tattoo when tattooing was really in." I see alot of them at the gym and it always reminds me that I need to start looking for another gym to go to. I've officially topped out on the Calvin stickers. I mean, a guy with my low tolerance for stupidity probably should've exceeded my tolerance for these some five years back, but I made it until now. Now, I want everyone of these to disappear. I really can't stand them anymore. Calvin and Hobbes hasn't been big since like two decades ago. Not only is it outdated, but it was never really funny. Who has such animosity toward a rival automaker?

Oh yeah, white trash. A cool shirt would be a Calvin peeing on a Calvin peeing on a Calvin peeing on a Calvin peeing on a Calvin peeing on a Calvin peeing on a Calvin peeing on a Calvin peeing on a Calvin peeing on a Calvin peeing on a Calvin peeing on a Calvin peeing on a Calvin peeing on a Calvin peeing on a Calvin peeing on a Calvin. Or maybe I should get a Calvin peeing on an Audi logo or something. Or the Wal-Mart logo. Man, maybe there's more legs on this thing than I thought.

Well, I gotta 9AM raquetball appointment with Mahan. It's really just a 9AM ass-whooping, but it builds character.

Friday, April 10, 2009


I would say that thunderstorms and Roundhouse softball are the only two reasons I like the spring. That being said, there's nothing better than Roundhouse softball. Even better is starting out the season 2-0 after taking the Devil Dogs, 13-8, and then run-ruling Budweiser, 18-6. Even more awesome is we did it in sustained winds of 20-25 MPH. That's what you get with West Texas softball.

Just saw that the Plainview Peanut Company on CNN Headline News this morning as one of the two plants in the company fined for the salmonella outbreak. Awesome.

Anyhow, I was saying, had two additions to the team, Chris and Greg. Both held their own last night putting together both an offensive output that fueled the barrage of runs and a defensive front that quelled a late comeback from the Devil Dogs. Nice having new blood, but just like all of us, you gotta prove it on the field. Nothing's handed to you. In a move of significant testicular fortitude, Chris rounded third as the ball was being relayed in from centerfield. He feinted at darting home and the centerfielder dared him by yelling "Do it!" like Chris wouldn't run home on his arm. So Chris just sprinted towards home and beat the play by a few good steps. From that point on, the game started to unravel on the centerfielder. Meanwhile, Chris cemented his position on the team as a gutsy and sometimes too-stupid-for-his-own-good baller (we have a few of those), but nonetheless, an impressive player. I'm just glad none of the new guys throw like girls. That's my only criteria, honestly.

I think we moved up a league from last year because not only is it a two-homer league, but there's a team that dresses like the old San Diego Padres (pants and all...they have matching belts) and call themselves "Dats Wuts Up." Whatta waste of a good uniform. Personally, I think Roundhouse is a much doper name. They sure look sharp though in their get-ups. Have considered a redesign on the jersey, but our flag still waves. When you see such nice jerseys, it means two things: either they're super good or their sponsor has stupid cheddah. We saw them play and they're super good.

Man, nothing kicks off Good Friday like Eric B and Rakim. I know that sounds weird, but it's true.

I held down third base last night. Don't know if it's a permanent position for me because I know some dudes play it better, but I at least played the part last night. Think Mike Schmidt meets Wilford Brimley.

My other team (and, yes, they'll always be my "other" team) is the Westminster Bruise Bros. We started the season 0-2, but techically, neither of those counted, luckily. They were pretty ugly losses, but everyone's spirit is good. I'd say that losing builds three times more character than winning. It's a balance that's necessary in ones life.

That being said, the Sox went 1-2 in their first series of the season against the Rays in Boston. We got the Angels this weekend. It'd be nice if we could recover a few of those games. Still I'd rather start off 1-2 against the Rays than against the Orioles (Spankees).

Eh, sports talk. I know all you non-sporty folk love it. The other day, a co-worker heard me listening to Ahmad Jamal and asked what I was listening to. I told him and then he told me that "it sounds like porno music."

"I suppose alot of my music sounds like that," I replied.

Happy Good Friday folks and don't eat the peanuts from Plainview.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009



Released as a B-side to the song that started it all ("The Gas Face"), "Wordz of Wizdom" is one of those songs that defies the perception of the group. Most people wouldn't recall 3rd Bass as anything remotely "lyrical," but Serch and Pete Nice truly exhibit their mic mastery in "Wordz." Back in 1989, there were few true lyrical masters: Rakim, Kane, LL, Pos,'s tough company for two Jewish emcees not named Adrock, Mike D or MCA.

But "Wordz" is an offering that quietly places 3rd Bass among the ranks with it's twisted phrasing, constant barrage of metaphors and almost cryptic messages deliberately scribed to tout the duo (and, of course, Sam Sever on the tables) as a lyrical force. Whether or not, over time, it did just that is hard to assess. The popularity of a "Gas Face" (or later "Pop Goes the Weasel"), while not especially gimmicky, created the dreaded "one-hit" stigma (while technically, that's at least two hits) that would attach itself to 3rd Bass even though, owners of their second record, would be quick to denounce such a claim.

What makes "Wordz" the complete package, however, is both the work of Serch and Pete Nice as lyricists, but also the extraordinary production of co-producers Pete Nice and Sam Sever. On the original mix, the drums of the Commodores' "Assembly Line" lays the foundation for Gary Wright's "Love is Alive" giving way later to Wright's "Dream Weaver." Totaling over six minutes and thirty seconds, the original recalls earlier hip hop compositions more intended to showcase the skills of the group rather than desperately aiming for radio play with the perfectly packaged and delivered three-to-four minute banger with a video in rotation at MTV. The remix, anchored by a cleverly flipped Depeche Mode sample, actually teases eight minutes in length.

Altogether, "Wordz of Wizdom" is one of those forgotten classics worthy of its place at #32 in The Root Down's 33 Greatest Songs in Hip Hop. 3rd Bass is just ill.

Saturday, April 04, 2009



We'll jump off j3's Illest 33 Songs in the History of Hip Hop with one of the finest Cube tracks ever recorded. The fury and fervor on this track made Cube one of my favorite emcees ever. On what will go down as one of Cube's most popular offering with the help of a radio-ready ghetto-anthemic "It was a Good Day" and the Muggs-produced "Wicked," The Predator, for those who didn't jump straight to "Good Day" starts with a haunting scene from American Me where an individual is strip-searched in prison before launching straight into "When Will They Shoot." Cube's first line: an explosive, "G***amn, another ***king payback with a twist!" Stirred, maddened, hardened by the Rodney King verdict which turned into Los Angeles into a furnace (like Cube needs another reason to be upset), Cube comes with some of the most seething and furious words ever delivered dating back to Amerikkka's. Borrowing a not-so-disguised sampling of Queen's "We Will Rock You," producer Bobcat Elvin (who, most notably, produced LL's "Mama Said Knock You Out") laid the track that Cube would use to take shots at LAPD's then-Chief of Police, Daryll Gates, NWA, the KKK and then just roundhousing America into submission ("Uncle Sam is just Hitler without an oven, burning our black skin, buy a neighborhood, then push the crack in").

"Blacker than a trillion midnights," Cube's three verses are more a reckless melee than the poised delivery of the past. He quickly shifts his targets from one line to the next. His delivery is much like a young welterweight coming out of the corner throwing everything he has, swinging at the head in front of him as hard as he can to do one thing: draw as much blood as possible. Fitting that this would be the first track on the record. Start it off with a bang. In retrospect, "Good Day," in the context of the record, is almost a much-needed break between Cube assaults. Predator, as an album, is a vicious and relentless attack all embodied in "Shoot?"

It's construction is so heavy, it's lyrical content so brutal and scathing that, when it's complete, it feels like a ten-minute flogging. Surprising that it times in just over four and a half minutes. You know when you hear some gangbanger reflect on getting jumped-in, they say they "thought it would never end," or "it felt like fifteen minutes," that's "When Will They Shoot?"

Friday, April 03, 2009


More than a year ago, I ambitiously embarked on what could only be described as possibly the most insane list ever: j3's Best 333 Songs in Hip Hop History. Not sure how far I made it. I would be easy to go back and check, but needless to say, I bit off more than I could possibly digest. The list was complete, but to maintain a certain level of literary dignity on The Root Down (yes, "literary dignity"), it's more than simply posting the's an explanation of why. I don't do just lists. So as companies are cutting back or pulling back on the reins, I've decided to severely alter it by cutting it 90% to save me time, energy, delivery costs and possibly sanity. We'll be doing the Best 33 Songs in Hip Hop History, of course, according to The Root Down. The contents of the list are not to be argued or debated. Y'don't like it, I think they still hand out blogs for free. Go get one.

I am freshening up the list, though, because at last review, I saw that some portions of it (even at the top) were slightly inaccurate given my pilgrimage into the earliest hip hop from the last two years with Da Pocket Prophet.

Trust me, this cutback comes with good reason. Ultimately, it's about survival. The savings we'll make here will benefit us in the long run. Think long term.

Man, I forgot how good cereal is. I've eaten more cereal in the last month than I have in the last two decades.

Happy Friday. Opening Day's right around the corner. Some fantasy baseball analyst said that "Youk is a fluke." Yeah, that's fantasy.

Thursday, April 02, 2009


("It's a Man's World" plays continuously. Begins first listen to the completed 45 minutes of the Black Moon mix)

It seems like that, as far back as I can remember, I've been a walker, but that's not necessarily true. It's probably been a good three or three and a half years. I began just making the simple walk from home to work, back to home for lunch, back to work after lunch and back home after work. That was a total of two miles a day at my old house. I don't even remember why I started. I think that, firstly, that's when the gas prices started creeping the excrutiating level and I was fed up about that. Secondly, I was topping 240 pounds of stupid and thought I needed to be hard on myself for the years I "took it easy." And, lastly, I remember thinking that it was a little silly to drive a half mile to work. Especially when some cats even in the Yellow, drive fifteen or twenty miles to work. Since I live close, might as well walk. It was part protest, part personal and part practical. If it was just one of those and only one, I probably would've stopped by now. I remember one day, as stubborn as I had become about walking instead of taking a ride, I get a call from Brinks Security saying that our alarm was going off and instead of seeking a ride to take me home, I jogged with a thirty pound backpack on my back. You could say that's when I knew I had become committed.

I made that walk so many times. I think I figured that, over the course of a year, I probably walked from here to Albuquerque and, to make it more interesting, I started doing so with a backpack to give resistance and weight--to make the burden of walking even more undesireable. See how committed I was, I suppose. I loaded that backpack with books about jazz, baseball, dictionaries--anything that was of significant weight. To date, I've never stopped wearing the backpack. It's like my security blanket. And, yes, it still weighs a ton even though the only thing I ever put in and take out daily is my wallet and phone. Everything else is purely weight.

Then we moved.

We moved about a mile and a half away from my work. I figured if I walked a half mile in ten minutes, that a mile and a half would take only a half hour. Now, a half hour scurry for lunch would mean only twenty to twenty-five minutes for lunch. Probably not a bad thing. Less time to eat, less eating. It would mean, however, that I would have to drive back after lunch. So I began starting from the house at 7:30 in the morning and would walk home for lunch and then drive back after a short time at the house. And it's been almost a religious practice for the last two years or so. It's 3,557 steps from my front door to the lobby door at work. On good days, I can do that walk in 22 minutes.

I never leave home without music. I prefer hip hop from 1991-1993. I think it's best for the morning walk. The walk home at lunch is much better with about 1998-2000. I listen to music because I got yelled at once by a passing car. Some guy leaned out of his car and yelled, "Asshole!" I suppose that was the beginning of the headphones--just so I didn't have to listen to the jeers of passing motorists. Interesting, though, that I get called an asshole for simply walking. I don't believe I did anything to him. Maybe I did. Not sure. In fact, I've been yelled at, laughed at, pointed at and frowned at. I've even been attacked and chased by four different canines. One broke skin. My favorite is when people lock their doors as I approach. I suppose I can be a fairly peculiar looking fellow. I've never approached a car, spoke to a motorist, caused an accident or ever changed the course of traffic...I did flip a few guys off but they deserved it. Otherwise, I go with the flow of traffic quite well. Not a big fan of jaywalking. Normally will cross at the appropriate places. It's not renegade pedestrianism. I'm just trying to quietly move from point A to point B across a sometimes challenging urbanized plane.

I've never taken a ride on the new route. No matter how late I am or how bad the weather is. And I'm offered rides often. I'd say once every two weeks someone pulls up next to me and offers a ride. Funny thing is, it's never anyone I know. All the people at work know I'll decline...most of the time by just shooing them off with a hand motion. It makes me wonder however what goes through the head of people who will pull up to a complete stranger they see just walking and offering them a ride. Do they see me as someone who could possibly be bound and tortured? Or are they just naive to the dangers of picking up strangers. I suppose they're just trying to be nice. It's just weird. Sometimes they're surprised when I decline with a "suit yourself," sort of remark. Thank you. I will.

I suppose that people think it's odd and I hardly blame them that I dude in khakis and a button-down knit shirt is walking. I might appear like a nice guy in need of some grace. While it's a kind notion, I'm doing this because I want to. I choose to. I'm not on probation. I didn't lose my license. My car's not stolen or sitting in my front yard. It works fine. I didn't lose a bet.

I wouldn't take a ride from a stranger anyway. Because I secretly (or not so much now), am fearful of dying of suffocation and that's the only thing I think of when someone pulls up next to me.

I've realized too that there's something odd about a guy who willingly walks a mile and a half to work. My lovely wife probably just wishes I would at least ride a bike so she wouldn't have to answer questions about why her husband walks when we both have perfectly operable automobiles. I suppose people at work would feel the same. Like it looks a little odd that someone in a supervisoral position walks. Maybe it gives off the impression that they don't pay well enough. Not true, either. I'm paid well. Well enough at least.

I tried riding a bike. It's hanging up in the garage with a flat tire that needs fixing. I haven't gotten around to it because, well, I wasn't very coordinated on the bike, firstly and secondly, I never really felt the satisfaction from riding the bike. Walking has very spiritual effects. Driving is a jarring and, sometimes, aggravating experience. Plus, it simply goes too fast. You don't have much of an opportunity to process things. You hop in your car and almost with the speed of a teleport, you're in location B, in a fraction of a second. Riding a bike is quicker than walking and slower than driving, but there are still a number of hazards and dangers that keep it from being a truly reflective experience. Walking, on the other hand, allows you to fully process your emotions. It's a paced, but slow form or transport because, essentially, you're transporting yourself as opposed to machinery or automotive accelerating your transport. Because of that, not only is it slower, but it allows for much more thought and meditation. I've also found that walking is a humbling experience because of the constant recognition that your size is quite small and insignificant in God's great earth. You're pretty small in the larger scheme of things. With the sky above and a mile and a half to go, you start to feel pretty small. Repeat that same path and thought five times a week for two years and it starts to really sink in. Also, when you're walking into that forty mile-an-hour West Texas gust, you're concept of Mother Nature's force and fury is pretty crystal clear. The same experience in a car is hardly something you'd pay mind to.

I'm continuing to walk. But as part of my weird and, sometimes, unexplainable reasons, I decided to take the day off this morning to throw it up on the Root Down.

I was New Balance 574 faithful in my walks until I came across the Saucony Jazz. It's a better walking shoe simply because of it's light weight. The frame is much like the 574, but it weighs about half that of a New Balance. Don't get it twisted, though, still the 574 wins out.