Since first hearing of LeBron James, I have been intrigued by this prodigy. One look at him on film and I knew he was unquestionably the real deal. The question in my mind, as it is with so many young folks today, how is his self-awareness? Does he remotely understand his gift? Is he confident but humble?
His first game in the NBA, followed by his first season, answered all questions in my mind. This kid was going to be the greatest ever, I thought to myself. His understanding of the game, the full comprehension of the total game, surpassed many adults I regularly interacted with then and now. He has since been ignorantly criticized for making outstanding basketball plays simply because he didn't hog the last shot for himself. What a crazy, crazy world LeBron James has had to endure.
He was destined to become the greatest of all time and he has become that, I don't care what anyone says to the contrary.
In his first-ever NBA game he scored 25 points against the Sacramento Kings, in the process setting an NBA record for most points scored by a kid who jumped straight from high school into the pros in his first game. In that game he played 42 minutes and made 12 of 20 shots. At the age of just 19!
Think about that for a minute.
No one has ever, EVER, come into the NBA with more pressure on his shoulders and no one has ever handled it with better grace. He has handled the disrespect and his disappointments well. He has been subjected to an odd form of hazing by Michael Jordan sycophants desperately afraid (apparently) of his greatness. In what is acknowledged as his only major "mistake" of his pro career, he is taken to task for "The Decision" but that was a forgivable transgression that arguably wasn't a transgression at all. I've argued previously that it wasn't (-1- LeBron James Is A Genius; -2- The Day-After Riot).
He brought two NBA titles to the Sunshine State, and allowed us to enjoy four straight trips to the NBA Finals. For that, many of us will be forever grateful. I continue to marvel at this incredible combination of sheer size, strength, quickness and total athleticism combined with genuine basketball know-how.
So, godspeed to you LeBron James. I wish you nothing but the best. You've got sand in your shoes now, and because of that, Florida will always welcome you back to the great Sunshine State.
Recently received eMail from the University of Florida Alumni Association:
PRESIDENT SEARCH UPDATE - June 16, 2014
To: University of Florida Family and Friends
Re: Presidential Search Update
Dear UF friends and family,
Thank you for your support and engagement as we proceed with the nationwide and worldwide search for the University of Florida’s next president. There is unanimous support on the Search Committee and the Board of Trustees to seek an exceptionally well-qualified leader with a distinguished academic career and the many other abilities needed to help UF become a top-10 public Association of American Universities institution and be strong in the coming years.
I want to give you an update on other activities to date and planned for the summer. The busiest time for the search will be in the fall, when faculty and students return to campus.
Conversations with Experts—AAU and APLU
I met recently with Dr. Hunter Rawlings, III, the president of the AAU and former president of Cornell University, and Peter McPherson, J.D., the president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and former president of Michigan State University. From my outreach, I have learned there is excitement in the academic research world about UF’s preeminence hiring initiative and our state leaders’ alignment with UF’s goals. UF is well positioned to attract a pool of talented university leaders from around the country for the opportunity to be president of our great university.
Executive search firm Greenwood/Asher & Associates has received a number of nominations for the position of president. They are posted on the president search website at http://presidentsearch.ufl.edu under The Position tab and will continue to be posted there as they are received. Nomination alone does not mean an individual is necessarily interested in, or qualified to be, president. Anyone who applies will be considered at the appropriate time in the process under the comprehensive search criteria approved in May.
The Compensation Subcommittee will meet July 7 and the Search Committee, Board of Trustees Governance Committee and full Board of Trustees will meet soon after to consider the market range for peer presidential compensation. The Communications and Marketing Subcommittee will meet later in July to review the advertisement for the president position. The full Search Committee will meet Sept. 5. All meetings will be live-streamed. Please go to the search website for meeting notices and live-stream connection information.
It is my honor to have been elected chairman of the Board of Trustees recently, and trustee and Search Committee Vice Chairman David Thomas was elected as vice chairman of the Board of Trustees. Our two-year terms of service begin July 1. I want to recognize the exceptional leadership of C. David Brown, II, who served as chairman of the Board of Trustees for the past two years. UF is indeed in a strong position to recruit the very best leader for UF’s future.
I hope your summer is off to a good start, and I look forward to the work this summer and in the fall on the presidential search. Your continued engagement is greatly appreciated.
These Gators continue their double-digit march through this tournament with impressive victories over UCLA, 79-68, and Dayton, 62-52. Of the two, the UCLA victory was the far more impressive. I thought the Dayton game could have, and should have, been a 20-point victory. I was in Memphis for both games. The Dayton contingent was phenomenal. Very supportive, and had a great basketball vibe. I didn't like the fact that they purposely tried to cheer over our squad when they were out on the floor, but other than that -- great fans. Very similar to Kentucky's Big Blue Nation:
Dayton was a great story but UCLA was a very impressive team and caused us some real problems that was only overcome by fantastic team play. If I was a Bruins fan, I'd hate the NCAA -- always putting us in Florida's bracket. Ease up, NCAA!
Up next for the Mighty Gators, the magical Final Four. To go 3-1 in the tournament for three years in a row is extremely difficult and -- properly understood -- one hell of an accomplishment. I well remember the days when a victory or two was one hell of an accomplishment. We're now 4-0 in this tournament, and Gator Nation is truly savoring the moment.
Billy Donovan has the best basketball program in the nation and, win or lose at the Final Four, he is the best basketball coach in the nation.
It has taken extremely hard work for these Gators to make it to this point and these Gators wouldn't have it any other way. Hard work and talent is a winning combination, no matter how you slice it.
Hard work, that's what they sayyyyyyy!
Hard work, I do it for playyyyyyy!
Hard work, the engines are on!
Hard work, the mission is go!
All season, our team for the ages has been the epitome of hard work, work! Constantly grinding and probing and grinding and seeking and grinding and, ultimately, FINDING a way to win.
Now, UConn is standing in our way. May the best team on Saturday win.
The basketball Florida Gators enjoyed a phenomenal weekend in Orlando last week and ended it with an emphatic and convincing 16-point victory over the Pittsburgh Panthers, 61-45.
I can't begin to express how happy and relieved that game against Pitt made me. What an effort in front of what was essentially a home crowd. The Big Dude from Big Duval (Patric Young) absolutely policed the paint in combination with our Bordeaux Baller (Will Yeguette). Gator Power !!! Everybody did their job, and was content to do THEIR job, and then our hometown assassin (Scottie Wilbekin) did what he does when he's at his fearless and finishing best. What a magnificent game. Four Sweet 16's in a row for the Gators and staring at 4 Elite Eights in a row.
That, quite simply, is an incredible accomplishment.
It has taken extremely hard work for these Gators to make it to this point and these Gators wouldn't have it any other way.
Hard work, that's what they sayyyyyyy!
Hard work, I do it for playyyyyyy!
Hard work, the engines are on!
Hard work, the mission is go!
All season, our team for the ages has been the epitome of hard work, work! Constantly grinding and probing and grinding and seeking and grinding and, ultimately, FINDING a way to win. I found a column in the Los Angeles Times from Bill Plaschke that casually verifies the accepted elite status of Florida Gator basketball.
Florida, the top-seeded team in this tournament and the hottest team in the nation with 28 straight wins, will play UCLA on Thursday night in Memphis, Tenn., in the Sweet 16.
In the last eight years the Gators have beaten the Bruins in the national championship game, the national semifinals and a round-of-32 game. They have beaten them with different players, wearing different uniforms, playing at different sites. But they have beaten them with the same coach and same system while always leaving the same lingering heartache.
Billy Donovan has always dominated Ben Howland. Gators speed and savvy have always blown away Bruins skill. Gators toughness has always overwhelmed Bruins tentativeness. For much of a decade, Florida has been UCLA's measuring stick, and the Bruins have always come up awkwardly short.
Florida defeated Albany today, 67-55. The win reminded me, as this season has reminded me, of a U.S. Army cadence -- check out the YouTube audio below. For however many games these Basketball Gators have remaining, that's my theme. Hard work, work!
As an already completely satisfied basketball Gator, I've resolved to enjoy the hell out of this tournament. Come. What. May.
What Billy Donovan has done to our program, and *for* our program, is a beautiful sight to behold. Incredible regular season in the finest all-major-sports conference in America. Football envy around the region and the nation relentlessly denigrates our individual basketball programs, but they match up nicely with any damn body and they prepare conference teams nicely for the grind and physicality that is the NCAA tournament.
Properly seen, the tournament is gravy. The regular season is the substance, the meat, and we've had our fill. We've beaten Tennessee and Kentucky, two damn good teams, three times in a row EACH! March madness? Hell, bring it on!
Survive and advance, baby, then eat some more gravy. That's gonna take some awfully hard work, however. Albany proved that today. But they have been safely dispatched. One team standing in our way is now down, and though the championship remains firmly in our sights, Pittsburgh was extremely impressive today. These Gators wouldn't have it any other way.
Hard work, that's what they sayyyyyyy!
Hard work, I do it for playyyyyyy!
Hard work, the engines are on!
Hard work, the mission is go!
All season, our team for the ages has been the epitome of hard work, work! Constantly grinding and probing and grinding and seeking and grinding and, ultimately, FINDING a way to win. Keep on keepin' on, fellas, just keep right on keepin' on - Gator stylin' and Gator profilin' all the way to that natty 'ship.
It was reported yesterday that Al and Judy Warrington made a gift of $75 million to the University of Florida, bringing their total contributions to the university over the years to an incredible $100 million. In honor of the remarkable donation, U.F. President Bernie Machen supplied an opinion piece printed today in the Miami Herald and I'm re-printing it in full below.
Friday night, Al Warrington, a UF alumnus, an accomplished businessman — and a Miamian — along with his wife, Judy, pledged the single largest gift ever to the University of Florida.
The $75 million, which, when combined with Warrington’s earlier support, makes him UF’s first $100-million donor. This gift will add momentum to UF’s accelerating campaign to rise among the nation’s top public universities. The Warringtons’ generosity will benefit Florida’s best and brightest students, its economy and all of the nearly 20 million Floridians touched by the work of UF researchers in fields ranging from medicine to agriculture to engineering.
Florida has invested heavily in public higher education for more than a century, and this taxpayer support has driven the growth and success of UF and our 11 other public universities.
Today, UF offers a world-class education at a price consistently ranked as one of the best bargains in the nation. We have built a legacy of medical and scientific discoveries; technologies that have helped launch more than 100 job-creating companies; and labs that attract almost $600 million in annual corporate, foundation and federal research funding to Florida.
The Warringtons’ gift and similar private support will allow UF to augment, amplify and diversify this legacy in ways that go beyond what is possible with public funds or tuition dollars.
Such gifts support:
• Scholarships for Florida residents, such as the Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars Program. Intended for first-generation students whose families earn less than $40,000 a year, this scholarship has enabled more than 2,900 students to attend UF since 2006.
• Endowed faculty positions that will allow UF to hire and retain world-class faculty.
• Student training and experience. A case in point: Business college faculty use these funds to hire graduate student assistants, who in turn focus on research questions and receive critical training as Florida’s next generation of entrepreneurs and scholars.
• The purchase of scholarly or scientific assets, such as immense sets of business and economic data — the raw materials from which faculty build new insights and knowledge. These funds also help UF researchers travel around the globe to collaborate with colleagues at other institutions.
The Warrington gift comes as our university moves forward with plans to hire as many as 130 faculty members as part of the Preeminence Plan to rise among the nation’s top universities. UF will match the state’s investment in this plan — $15 million annually for five years — through private donations, with the goal of raising $800 million before the next Olympics.
Al Warrington has been a regular on the UF campus for almost 60 years. He worked his way through school cleaning fraternity houses and subsisting at times on apple butter sandwiches. He rose in the ranks at Arthur Andersen in its Miami office and frequently recruited Gator grads to work for the firm. He has shuttled into town for decades to serve on the UF board of trustees, as president of Gator Boosters and the UF Alumni Association, and as a member of the UF Foundation Board of Directors. He considers Miami his hometown and has owned a home there for decades.
He knows UF as few do, and that knowledge has guided his giving. His past support helped transform the business school now named for him. His latest gift comes at a key moment in UF’s history as we combine state support with private funding to enhance the preeminent university in Florida, a national bellwether state soon to eclipse New York as the nation’s third most populous.
For students, the results will be more scholarships, state-of-the-art facilities and opportunities to interact with top-flight professors.
The state’s business community will gain new companies, skilled employees and expertise. And residents will see benefits ranging from disease-resistant crops to new consumer technologies to advances in cancer treatment.
As we work toward those goals, donors such as the Warringtons give twice. Once to UF, and again to the people of Florida.
Bernie Machen is the president of the University of Florida.
I'll never forget my first trip to the University City: Orange Park High School's football team was taking a bus down to one of the early season Gator football games (my recollection, with the aid of Google, says it was September 13, 1975 which, oh by the way, was a 40-14 victory over SMU -- yes!) and I was wide-eyed as we turned right from Waldo Road and commenced that 1.7 mile drive west on University Avenue.
Then, all of a sudden, there it was. At the corner of University Avenue and 13th Street, a simple and unpretentious brick structure that still stands (perhaps not for long, though) said it all: UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA.
Even as a kid this was my dream school, and at a then-unknown date in the future it would be the only university I applied for admission to, and I had been a fan of Florida Gator athletics for what seemed like years and years by then. But I had not visited the campus, and I was genuinely in awe. People filled both sides of the street, all walking toward Florida Field, and the excitement on the school bus (yes, we bussed down the 55 miles or so from Orange Park in a Clay County School Bus) was palpable. I don't know, maybe it was just me but I don't think so. But I was especially excited.
That trip, that game, was a special memory for me and remains so. That's why I'm intrigued by Florida's decision to update that (for me) iconic gateway to campus. I have for years wondered when this would be done (the sign was understated and insufficient even in 1975) and the time, apparently, is now.
The following images help tell the story.
The gateway to campus (certainly for folks coming from Jacksonville and northeast Florida; Gators coming from other parts of the state might think of other spots as equally iconic gateways) is being revised as an ancillary benefit arising from the growth of our Warrington College of Business. The undergraduate program, the Heavener School of Business, is getting their own dedicated building and it will directly front that University Avenue / 13th Street intersection. This is what the current aerial overhead shot of the construction looks like:
Heavener Hall is HUGE and it's going to be a significant addition to campus that will clearly add some distinct spaces to an already distinctive location. This is what tonights construction webcam presented:
And, when it's all finished, this is what that gateway should more-or-less look like:
The next decade for the University of Florida is going to be phenomenal, academically and athletically. And our physical plant is going to reflect that advance, too.
I rise today to defend one named Jeff Driskel, starting quarterback for the Florida Gator football team. A much-maligned starting quarterback, he is. Driskel was an elite quarterback coming out of high school and may very well have had elite success in college but . . . the coaching staff he fell in love with (Urban Meyer and company) left before he could do his thing. Jeff stayed, things got crazy, and Florida's performance fell off. But, Jeff did have some success and was our quarterback that led the team during the 2012 campaign when we came awfully close to making it to the national championship game.
Few people remember that, however, and fewer still give him credit for his play that season. It wasn't a stellar offensive production season, to be sure, but Jeff doesn't get enough credit for that 2012 game against FSU. Remember that game?
I'm constantly amazed how easy it is for Gator fans to disparage Jeff. Not critique him, mind you -- he's clearly earned the critique -- but he was 15 of 23 for 147 in that game with 1 TD and 0 interceptions (think, for just a minute, about our WRs versus their secondary, okay?). And that TD was a fourth quarter TD against a very good defense at their place, a score that essentially put the game away and made it 30-20.
I'm sorry, but that's a damn good performance. Not an okay performance, or a yeah it'll pass in a rush performance -- a damn good performance. The coordinator of that FSU defense earned a head coaching job and they put a bunch of players into the NFL draft that year. And never forget, they only get off that bogus horse with that bogus Injun and plant that bogus spear into that Panhandle dirt for one team -- just one; the Mighty Gators, baby.
Give Jeff some credit here. That was a great win, and he performed well under tremendous pressure in a very big game.
For whatever reason, the sum of our parts on offense didn't ever quite click with the prior offensive coordinator. Part of that certainly appeared to be Jeff's fault. But his evident talent is phenomenal, and if he clicks in this Kurt Roper offense better than the last one I'm going to be one very happy Gator and there are going to be a bunch of sad Noles around this town come the end of November once again.
Jeff Driskel. Nole Killa. That's my story and I'm sticking with it.
As for our incoming QBs -- Treon Harris may be the next coming of Russell Wilson. He's underestimated, bigtime. Check out the video of the 55-0 beatdown he helped deliver against one of metro Atlanta's premier programs, Norcross High School (by the way, that team won the state championship of Georgia's biggest classification this past season for the second year in a row):
I know this: Will Grier better be ready. That Harris kid will not be moved to wide receiver, and the Nole trolls that like to float on Gator message boards know it.
Speaking of Noles, I don't believe FSU or Miami has ever won a national championship with a QB from the State of Florida (could be on wrong on that, but I don't think so) and the smack-delivering pleasure it would give me to have a kid from Booker T. Washington High School in Miami F.L.A. lead us to a championship is off-the-charts. We've had a kid from Big Duval lead us to a title, maybe it's time for a kid from Big Dade to deliver.
Here's a nice, quick video demonstrating the modifications that will be made in Downtown Jax as a result of the reconstruction of the Overland Bridge crossing the Southbank and into the Southside:
Slowly but surely we're getting there in Downtown Jax, slowly but surely. Now if only Shad Khan and a few other folks can make something spectacular happen with the Jacksonville Shipyards site, the place will really start popping.
For an outstanding overhead picture mapping the existing roadway flow and the new construction that will complement or transform the existing flow, take a look at this.
Kudos to FDOT and the design-build team they assembled. Final completion won't occur until 2016, however. Also, if you're interested in Downtown Jax like I am, you might also want to take a look at this MetroJacksonville report on the possible redevelopment of the Jacksonville Landing.
What was so wrong with this conduct, many casual as well as passionate football fans have asked. Well, he (Richard Sherman) didn't just tap Crabtree on the shoulder to congratulate him at the end of the game -- he patted him on his ass, and then went with the fake "helluava game, helluva game" bull schiesse. Big difference in my book, given the disparity in outcomes that was being dealt with by Crabtree at that moment.
The acknowledged rule is that your play on the field speaks for you in a moment like that, especially if you feel you've been disrespected leading up to the contest.
It saddens me that so many are backing up Sherman on this punkish move he pulled off. A move that was completely orchestrated. Not only was it unsportsmanlike, it was all me-me-me.
No, Clay Travis and others, it isn't a good thing that he went all WWF / WWE. And it doesn't have anything to do with class or graciousness. It's called respect.
Here's a smart black man from Compton (who has probably heard his share of "why you talking like a white boy?" in his youth) now perpetrating as a thug (and make no mistake, it was purposeful, and purposely thuggish) and acting all ignorant to advance his personal brand. By laying hands on, and disrespecting, another player.
And it's working.
That's sad, and damn near sick. ESPN and more than a few media folk have what they crave.
I love the player and his audacious nature on the field. He is the role model for what shouldn't be an aberration but much more of the norm. Academics and athletics do complement one another. But now, in keeping with this era when people seem to have lost all sense of decorum and boundaries and -- most troubling -- pay no apparent penalty for the forgetting or the disrespecting, he knowingly goes down the ignorant route.
I'll likely be cheering for the Seahawks in the Super Bowl. But give me Russell Wilson (and Percy Harvin), thank you very much. To hell with Richard Sherman. Contrary to what Michael Irvin (a Florida Boy I love, faults and all) and others have insisted, this kind of conduct is *not* what you get when you shove a microphone and camera in a players face directly after a physical and very important game. That's nothing more than a convenient excuse.
He's a professional, and he unquestionably knew better.
In my preferred outcome, the Seahawks put up mucho points and Richard Sherman gets toasted early and often by Peyton Manning with Russell-Wilson-to-Percy-Harvin proving to be the difference maker in the fourth quarter.
It was a great championship game and FSU earned a tremendous 34-31 last seconds victory. And yes, I was cheering pretty hard for Auburn. But I'm not only an SEC guy, I'm a State of Florida guy in mindset. If the SEC couldn't win its 8th straight title, in my book it's only fitting that a Florida team win it. For me, I like the fact that Florida (the University of) started the SEC streak and in fact won the first two of three in the streak.
A Florida team starts it and a Florida team (little brother) ends it. I like that symmetry.
In fact, this game only proves to those of us who are SEC snobs the greatness of our football conference. Auburn was merely a peer in the SEC this year; clearly not a dominant football team. Simply somewhere in the top five or six. They were sixth in scoring defense and tenth in rushing defense. But wait, it gets worse. They were 14th in passing defense and twelth (twelth!!!) -- that's out of 14 total teams, ladies and gentlemen -- in TOTAL DEFENSE.
So, they were last in the conference in passing defense and that's what lost them the game.
However, they went toe-to-toe with FSU.
FSU, however, was historically dominant in the ACC. That's a joke.
Not only would that not have happened in the SEC, it wouldn't have even come close to happening in the SEC. It simply wouldn't.
But they've legitimately won the championship game and brought the championship trophy back to the Great Sunshine State where it belongs. For that, I give them a hearty and sincere Florida Boy congratulations.
Auto Awesome creates fun new versions of your photos and videos. Your photos will be combined into short animations, wide panoramas, or merged into group shots where everyone looks good. You'll know when an Auto Awesome photo or movie has been created by the icon.
Here is a basic picture I took last night:
And this is a link to the picture as displayed with the Auto Awesome feature (I don't know how to embed the gif so that it displays the twinkles within this blog).
Simple, but a nice twist. Me thinks I'm going to like this tool and the extensions it enables.
I'm sitting on a bed in my upstairs room, in a friends' house near Wellington, and in a state-of-mind fairly representative of this personal year: somewhat distracted, somewhat disappointed, somewhat blocked, somewhat angry, somewhat underperforming but nevertheless still objectively blessed.
Still, I just want to say goodbye to 2013.
The other day Google sent me -- unsolicited -- an automated movie compiled from some of my photos and videos taken on my smartphone this year. Some people get creeped out by that sort of thing; not me. I was (wait for it . . . ) somewhat pleased with the end-product. Here it be:
That will do, I guess. The other day I was looking at the Gainesville Sun (I have to stay in touch with my college hometown, dontcha know?) and saw a photo gallery produced by Erica Brough that captured my interest. Here are three shots I'd like to share:
First, Chuck Scott fishing at Lake Wauburg out on Paynes Prairie;
Beautiful and serene. That picture brings me peace.
Second, Louie the dog blood donor;
Beautiful and inspiring. That picture taps into what remains of a formerly bleeding heart.
Beautiful and joyous. That picture helps explain why I love Gainesville.
I had a full existence in 2013, and definitely experienced the joys and pains of personal daily life. But I find myself pleased at this moment to be saying goodbye to 2013 and thinking these thoughts:
May the road rise to meet you, May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, The rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
May God be with you and bless you: May you see your children's children. May you be poor in misfortune, Rich in blessings. May you know nothing but happiness From this day forward.
May the road rise up to meet you May the wind be always at your back May the warm rays of sun fall upon your home And may the hand of a friend always be near.
May green be the grass you walk on, May blue be the skies above you, May pure be the joys that surround you, May true be the hearts that love you.
My brother asked me and my answer was that I don't think I know who I am writing for any longer. I mean it is satisfying that I get my 200 hits a day at Cobb, down from 600 a couple years ago down from 1200 a few years prior. If I suddenly got 2000 hits a day, maybe somebody in the comments would let me know something I don't. But I should be satisfied, and now I remember that I am, just writing the stuff that doesn't get written elsewhere - the stuff I wished someone would write for me. I'm doing what I think is proper writing and perhaps there are others out there like me.
But last night I got a bit of an itch. More on that later. For now, I'm writing about the year of a man. Me.
This is the year that I finally figured out what to do in my post-political world. The best revenge is living well, but ever since I got sick and tired of political debate I hadn't really found something more compelling. But I fell into the right groove this year with my martial education, which may come at the death of my writing career for the next decade.�
There's a number of videos making the rounds of Fall Commencement this year at Grambling State University in Louisiana. It's ummmm, uh, well -- the fact of the matter is, you have to see it to believe it:
I am so incredibly conflicted by that video. I love the celebration, the collective party (and that "Neck" tune has become EXTREMELY popular with almost all black college bands these days and the fact of the matter is that I love it, too) but -- Grambling !!! -- this makes a mockery of the graduation exercise.
How in the hell does the administration at Grambling not understand that?
What the hell are they doing allowing the band to play "Neck" at graduation !?!
Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries !!!
So many folks these days can't quite seem to grasp the necessity of not only boundaries but the wisdom of the all-important social conventions of time, place, and manner. In short: decorum. I say this all the time to friends and acquaintances when we're bitching about the sorry state of so many kids these days. This video, however, says many folks in my generation and niche culture (adults in their 40s and 50s who are either administrators at black colleges or married to folks who are) can be faulted for being just as guilty.
The problem, of course, isn't limited to black culture (although I honestly can't imagine a white university having this kind of problem display at graduation -- a different kind of problem display, yes, but not this). It's just that "Neck" bubbled up out of black culture and, well, sadly it has to be admitted that there's something very familiar about this kind of excess.
That said, check out the problem they have at LSU with the playing of "Neck" at their football games. They, too, have fallen in love with the song and their irreverent kids have changed the lyrics from "heyyyyyyyyyyyy ohhhh, talking out the side of your neck" and "neckkkkkkkkkk, you talking out the side of your neck" to something quite, quite different:
Once again, boundaries. Once again, decorum.
As for the song that inspired the college compositions, here's the version released by Cameo:
The college stuff is much better, wouldn't you say? They took a very catchy riff, played it up, and left all the rest alone. It may be stretching things beyond all genuine comprehension but I suspect (wish?) there's a broader decorum lesson found in the musical process by which an average, at best, song was transformed into something quite memorable via the contemplation -- in part -- of time, place and manner restrictions.
First, a musical selection in tribute to the great man. South Africa's national anthem performed by Miriam Makeba, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and Paul Simon among others:
Second, on this, the day of his burial, I want to post something from a stranger to Nelson Mandela. The gentleman is also a stranger to me. In fact, his represent (I believe) the words of a generic white man who is apparently a Son of the South (apparently a Carolinian), clearly a fan of Mandela, probably liberal, and likely infused with perhaps an unhealthy dose of white guilt. Whatever the case, his words, however conceived *or* received, have merit. They arguably ring true. To me, at least. Here is what the guy who calls himself Sintax.the.Terrific (you can also find him on Facebook) had to say about this towering figure:
I have one take on Mandela, and I’ve made it to others many times before.
I am unaware of any other human in all of history who was oppressed so absolutely and then was given so absolutely the power to invert that oppression on millions of lives in justifiable retribution and yet declined. Not Ghandi or Dr. King or Mother Theresa. All of these individuals, righteous and consistent in their pacisifism, never actually gloved the reigns to violent power that must have tempted Mandela. They were always subject to power, maybe power they declined, but power they never possessed in the way he did. He was the undisputed psychological Monarch of South Africa upon his election. Had he chosen to change the country’s language to Mongolian Chinese and require men to birth the nation’s children he would have had widespread support.
Call it strategic or contrived, he elected, in the face of significant opposition from his own and victimized people, to largely integrate and accommodate. If you notice, throughout much of the rest of the developing world, when abused society obtains power they return the abuse.
The only parallel is in the lives of famous religious figures, like Christ. They are disqualified from this conversation insofar as they profess either actual divinity or divine authority or x-ray vision. As far as we can tell, Mandela was not any kind of incarnation or supernatural peeping tom.
Just a man who chose to do right in the face of so much opportunity to do wrong.
Maybe the greatest human that ever lived. Seriously.
That's a powerful testimony on the mystical reach of the legend that is Nelson Mandela.
The news came on the wings of a wind Reluctant to carry its burden.
Nelson Mandela’s day is done.
The news, expected and still unwelcome Reached us in the United States and suddenly
Our world became somber. Our skies were leadened
His day is done.
We see you, South African people Standing speechless at the slamming Of that final door Through which no traveler returns.
Our spirits reach out to you Bantu, Zulu, Xhosa, Boer
We think of you And your Son of Africa, Your father Your One More Wonder of the World.
We send our souls to you As you reflect upon Your David armed with A mere stone facing down
The Mighty Goliath, Man of strength Gideon, Emerging Triumphant
Although born into the brutal embrace of Apartheid Scarred by the savage atmosphere of racism, Unjustly imprisoned In the bloody maws of South African dungeons.
Would the man survive? Could the man survive?
His answer strengthened men and women Around the world.
In the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas On the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, In Chicago’s loop In New Orleans Mardi Gras In New York City’s Times Square
We watched as the hope of Africa sprang Through the prison’s doors
His stupendous heart intact His gargantuan will Hale and hearty
He had not been crippled by brutes Nor was his passion for the rights Of human beings Diminished by twenty-seven years of imprisonment
Even here in America We felt the cool Refreshing breeze of freedom
When Nelson Mandela took The seat of Presidency In his Country Where formerly he was not even allowed to vote We were enlarged by tears of pride As we saw Nelson Mandela’s Former prison guards Invited, courteously, by him to watch From the front rows His inauguration.
We saw him accept The world’s award in Norway With the grace and gratitude Of the Solon in Ancient Roman Courts And the confidence of African Chiefs From ancient royal stools.
No sun outlasts its sunset But will rise again And bring the dawn
Yes, Mandela’s day is done,
Yet we, his inheritors Will open the gates wider For reconciliation and we will respond Generously to the cries Of Blacks and Whites, Asian, Hispanics, The poor who live piteously On the floor of our planet He has offered us understanding We will not withhold forgiveness Even from those who do not ask
Nelson Mandela’s day is done
We confess it in tearful voices Yet we lift our own to say
Thank You. Thank You, Our Gideon. Thank You, Our David. Our great courageous man
We will not forget you We will not dishonor you We will remember and be glad That you lived among us
Take your leave, old Soldier. A gratefull community pauses around the globe to marvel at your legacy.
Words fail me at the moment, so I can only fall back and present here some iconic images of the great man:
The youthful Mandela:
Mandela released from prison:
Mandela speaks before a special session of the United States Congress:
Wandering through many countries and over many seas I come, my brother, to these sorrowful obsequies, to present you with the last guerdon of death, and speak, though in vain, to your silent ashes, since fortune has taken your own self away from me alas, my brother, so cruelly torn from me! Yet now meanwhile take these offerings, which by the custom of our fathers have been handed down -- a sorrowful tribute -- for a funeral sacrifice; take them, wet with many tears of a brother, and for ever, O my brother, hail and farewell!