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Can I Get Fries With That? - Chris 'Preach' Smith

There are more than a million reasons why I love the city of New York.
On a Friday evening in September a few years back, I remember being
in Greenwich Village. I had just left an auditorium in an abortive attempt
to catch a documentary. With absolutely nothing to do, I wind up in the
McDonald's on Sixth Avenue across from the Barnes&Noble bookstore
to grab a bite to eat. I'm sitting down, almost at the end of my meal,
listening to some music when I catch someone giving me the eye. She
smiles warmly, and I go back to finshing up. When I look up a minute
later, she's taking a seat at the table next to me, facing me diagonally.
With the same smile.

'What's up boo?' she asks. Now, she couldn't have been more than four
feet tall. I'm lookin' at her half-hesitant. 'Nothing much, what's up with
you?' I reply. She has this look in her eyes, the kind of look that makes
a dude run to the nearest drugstore for raingear. And I'm not talking
about galoshes. "My name's Tina*, what's yours?" I tell her my name
and shake her hand lightly. She's got on a hoody, blue jeans, typical
fall fashion for a 'round the way girl. As Tina talks, she starts heavily
flirting with me. I go along with the flow(wouldn't you?)and we start
laughing and joking. A lovely melody of possible romance.

'So Chris, gimme your number. I wanna kick it with you.' Tina asks,
outright. I'm like, 'cool!!' I give it to her and then she asks what am
I doing after this. 'I got nothing going on really, 'bout to go check one
of my friends out. Why?'

At that moment, the record skipped.

'Cause I wanted to go to a movie and break you off a's only
50 dollars.'

Say what?!!!!

At that moment, I realized that this young chick was a prostitute,
and a ghetto variety at that. And I just gave her my number...I
had to take action. So as we go back and forth, me brushing her
off and her being slightly more sexually agressive, I take the
opportunity to take two ice cubes out of the cup I was drinking
from and rest it on the napkin I wrote my number on. Once it
melted, the ink would get blurry and my problem would be
solved. After that I told Tina I had to jet. 'Nice meeting you
Chris, for real though...I just want to get to know you, sexy.'
she said with a charming smile. I said my goodbyes and went
straight for the subway.

Two weeks later, I get a phone call. It's Tina. Sonuva...
She proceeds to tell me that she had just gotten out. Of jail.
And that she was about to stab some chick on her tier and
how she was trying to make some money. In between all of
this, she was basically making her pitch to me to sleep with
her. And then it got crazy. She then asked if I would be
open to 'looking out for her out in the streets.' In other
words, be her pimp. I brushed her off and after that
phone call, I never heard from her again. Which made me
wonder for some time if Tina offered fries with her, ah,
services. And it made me wary of Mickey D's for a while.


A Tale of Two Camps - Chris 'Preach' Smith

What Joe Wilson of South Carolina did with his interruption of President
Obama was illustrate one vital point that should linger in the minds of many in
this country...civility and honest debate, values we love to flaunt as purely
American traits, have been shoved out of sight like dirty magazines under a
young man's bed. For that to happen was unprecedented, but it may have
reason to be expected given that healthcare reform has raised a firestorm
across the nation and showcased absolute ugliness from some people in this

Which brings up a question...where the HELL was all of this 'patriotic and
righteous indignation' for the past eight years? Whenever I turn on the TV
and see some of these people, I get angry. Mainly because their anger
and confusion is not only misdirected, but manipulated to the point that
they resort to outlandish statements and posters. I would have never
thought I'd see the day that a black man could be compared to Adolf Hitler.
Skinheads and Aryan separtist groups must be scratching their heads at
that one. But that is what Obama is being called all because a certain
politician who couldn't tell a news journalist what she liked to read makes
a statement that his healthcare proposal contained 'death panels' when
it clearly doesn't. And it is reckless vitriol by clueless, power hungry
politicians and puffed-up media pundits who add fuel to the flames.

I would have never thought I'd see the day that a black
man could be compared to Adolf Hitler.

Charles Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities" comes to mind whenever I see
news coverage of the town hall meetings and protesters and view
people like Brit Hume and Glenn Beck. There's a cautionary element
in the novel that Dickens illustrated that is two-fold. the aristocracy
must take great pains to not sow injustice among the masses or it
will reap their anger and contribute to their downfall. But Dickens also
shows no sympathy towards the poor in the novel when they become
a mad mob intent on rampant punishment. It may behoove us to
re-read Dickens because we're getting that mob mentality delivered
to us on our television sets and our chatrooms. When people feel
the need to attack the President over a speaking to schoolchildren,
it is a classic sign that there are people whose brains have been
switched to autopilot. We need more people willing to stand up
and say, 'Have you no sense of decency, at long last?' to people
who will not entertain sense and reason when debating these and
all topics vital to every American.

It worked with Joseph McCarthy.


Are you ready for some...Tecmo Super Bowl?!! - Chris "Preach" Smith

Football season is here. Whenever the weather gets a
bit crisp and sundays become holy for a different reason
altogether, I always get nostalgic and take my mind back
to one of the main reasons why I came to love football
so much. It was 1991, and I was in eighth grade at St.
Joachim and Anne in Queens Village. Everyone on my
block was a Nintendo head to the fullest. And there was
no game that inspired more arguments, diss sessions and
the occassional fight more than Tecmo Super Bowl at that
time. To me, it was possibly one of the best games ever
to come out on the NES and was Madden BEFORE Madden.
You have doubts? Let me proceed to break it down for you.

1)Top of the line graphics...for 8-bit.

No one expected the sprites to change from the first Tecmo
Bowl game, but the cutaway scenes were a definite upgrade
from those Etch-a-Sketch-on-LSD drawings we used to get.
(And what was with those high-fives?)I used to love getting
a sack on someone and seeing the defensive player hop up
and tremble with adrenaline in sync with their name popping
up. The quarterback-to-reciever plays had some flair as well,
with the QB throwing a nice looping right in joy as the wideout
ran with the ball hoisted aloft in triumph. And of course, we
all remember the display when someone got hurt. That used
to get me in hot water whenever I played a season and saw
that happen to a key player because the first words out of
my mouth were 'SON OF A -'...

Bo knows touchdowns.

2)You had all of the NFL teams PLUS the Pro Bowl lineup.

This made it more fun to have good matchups. No more of
those games where if you played against Chicago and that
insane 99 yard pass to Cap Bozo(on a side note, isn't that
the wildest name you've heard in football EVER outside of
He Hate Me?) you were guaranteed a loss. Outside of Tampa
Bay, Indianapolis, Green Bay and Arizona, every team gave
you a fighting chance. Add substitutions, health gauges,
injury reports, statistic sheets as well as a huge playbook
to select from and this game became the standard for
all other sports games to follow. Which brings me to my
next point:

3)The players made Tecmo Super Bowl great.

Lawrence Taylor was a BEAST in that game. I once played a
full season with him and by the time the playoffs came, I
had 47 sacks. That's right, 47. Derrick Thomas(RIP) of
Kansas City was the same way. Bo Jackson was hands down
the best running back - you let him break free, chalk up 7
points for the other side. Even Dan Marino, DAN MARINO
was the equal of Randall Cunningham(known as one of two
players who didn't give permission to have their name in
the game, therefore known as QB Eagles)in running and
passing which was NOT the case in real life. All of these
players made the NFL that much more vivid to me whenever
I watched the games, from Craig 'Ironhead' Heyward(RIP)
to Joe Montana to Barry Sanders. And they made for some
crazy gameplay. I remember being down a touchdown with
15 seconds to go in one game. I'm on my own 6 yard line
playing as Oakland. My nephew Stevie had Washington. I
called a run play for Bo Jackson and all of a sudden, I broke
free and ran rings around the entire defense for 90 plus
yards laughing the entire time, so much so I couldn't
even hold the controller. It was so bad I got challenged to
play three out of five right afterwards. Which brings me to:

Joe Montana back to throw...


4)Competition. And trash talk.

Every game I played against my boys, or cousins had that
extra spice served up by a bit of smack-talk. 'You aint
s**t without Kansas City. Play me using another team yo.'
'Yo if you use another QB run with Philly again on me, I'ma
jap you in your mouth.' I've seen lips split, instant rumbles
and even someone get a textbook bounced off the corner
of their eye. Tecmo Super Bowl bred a lot of intense
competition not unlike what you have in Madden sessions
today. And some real heavy trash talking which always
got someone a little sensitive. Thankfully after a few love
taps and close quarter wrestling, things boiled over and
we all remained cool.


If anything else, my love for this game is shared with a
great deal of other people. And now thanks to technology,
I can revive that joy on my computer thanks to roms and
emulators that run NES games. Some have even created
Tecmo Super Bowl roms that have today's players. Is that
a little bit TOO much? I  don't know...I wouldn't mind a
matchup between today's New York Giants and the Giants
of 1991 Tecmo style.


Madden is the king of sports video games, and with good
reason. But for times when I want to recapture some
old memories, I'll pop on the emulator and soak up some
8 bit, synthesizer laden, sprite filled greatness that is
Tecmo Super Bowl. See you on Sunday.


A Tale of Two Tantrums - Chris "Preach" Smith

New York City, for this weekend, got some fireworks before the
official end of summer from a usual suspect and an unlikely one. It's
now been 24 hours since the interruption heard and seen around the
world courtesy of Kanye West at MTV's Video Music Awards held live
at Radio City Music Hall last night. West took to the stage and brazenly
grabbed a microphone during 19 year old Taylor Swift's acceptance
speech for winning the Best Female Artists' Video award, declaring that
Beyonce had the better video in front of a shocked audience. After being
booed lustily, West then flipped the bird to the audience. After the
display, West apparently was not only asked to leave by MTV staff but
also nearly was assaulted by Pink according to a couple of reports.

Kanye West with Hennessy in one hand and Amber Rose in the other
(MTV Photos)

There is considerable outrage over Kanye's act last night and rightfully so.
What he did was shameful and disrespectful for someone who claims to
be a staunch defender of artistry. What makes it worse is that Taylor Swift
is 19, on one of the biggest stages of her life and someone who she looks
up to as a musician comes in and drops a load of manure on her moment.
Beyonce, in a wonderful move had Swift join her on stage when she won
an award to give her acceptance speech again. Which will probably make
Kanye cringe on that next phone call to Jay-Z. But there are some people
calling for a boycott of West for his actions. While I wouldn't dispute
anyone who wishes to do so, I don't think that will happen. Mainly because
West is someone who feels absolutely comfortable in acting out this way
with little to no reprocussions. When you consider the fact that he has
done this before to MTV, and has had other outbursts yet still gets a lot
of acclaim, the fact of the matter is this: Kanye does it because it gets
people talking. He does it because he follows that cliche of 'there's no
such thing as bad publicity.' If there were a call to boycott Kanye's
music it would have the same effect as the drive to boycott R.Kelly. And
you remember what he was charged with. And how he still made money.
If MTV were to stop giving him airtime then maybe episodes such as
last night wouldn't happen again. But money talks louder than virtues
like courtesy these days. Maybe this is Kanye's wakeup call.

The other tantrum of note this weekend happened in Flushing,
Queens at the US Open during the womens' semifinal between
Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters. Serena was frustrated
throughout this match, smashing her racket on the hard court
earning her a code violation. But her frustration boiled over
and exploded in an expletive-filled tirade directed at the
lineswoman who called a foot fault on her. Williams lost the
match and was later fined $10,000.

The backlash may be greater than expected, but what may truly be shocking
is how many people are calling for Serena's expulsion from future Grand Slam
events in addition to heavier fines. Her actions were disgraceful and shocking
without question. You can safely say that such an outburst was out of
character for her. But one has to have greater perspective here. Tennis as a
sport has had a few volatile personalities, arguably none greater than John
McEnroe who has a lifetime of anger management issues. Ask Tatum O' Neal.
But he has been elevated to the status of a legend partly due to that part of
his personality. And he's been able to make a mint off of it. Serena's display
was terrible, but to ban her from future Slam events is reactionary and sets
a bad double standard for tennis. McEnroe himself suggested that as a fair
punishment, the United States Tennis Association should have her play the
fall tournaments which Williams normally avoids. I would advise them to
take it a step further and also have her submit an apology to the lineswoman
directly rather than the statement on her website which after her
unapologetic stance after the incident seems too rushed and therefore
rings hollow. But to ban one of the top players from Slam events would be
rash and give more heft to the argument that some in tennis don't want
the Williams sisters around anymore for reasons other than their play.

One can only hope that both Kanye West and Serena Williams can regroup
from their respective outbursts to the point where it would be a blip on
their careers. And leave the tirades for other individuals with less talent
and more mouth who we can ignore easily.


Patriot Day - Chris "Preach" Smith


In two days, America will stop its frenetic pace and reflect on
on the most tragic day in its existence as a nation of the world.
Eight years later, the physical scars are still evident once you
walk around lower Manhattan and view Ground Zero. More
insistent are the social and emotional scars from that day. 9/11
isn't just another day on the calendar and never will be again.
But 9/11, to a certain number of people, has become little more
than a tool. A tool of exploitation, and deliberate manipulation.
And few are willing to speak out about it.

Consider if you will, the record industry moves over the past
couple of years with regards to hip hop. Kanye West and 50 Cent
were on a much hyped head-to-head collison course at the top
of the charts due to both of their albums being released on
September 11th, 2007. As it was, Interscope Records chose
that day first for 50's album, Curtis. Kanye West's album,
Graduation was initially slated to debut on September 18th but
due to a slew of highly positive acclaim, it was pushed up to
the 11th by Def Jam, Kanye's label. As expected, Kanye won
the battle, selling close to a million units by the end of the
week alone. Jay-Z recently was set to release his highly
anticipated album on 9/11 this year to coincide with his
benefit concert in New York City. But the date was pushed
back to the 8th, possibly to nab some of the sales away from
Raekwon's new album hitting shelves that day. Which begs
the question: aren't there certain things above money that
we must hold sacred? I'm sure the artists weren't concerned
as to when their respective albums were released, and one has
to factor in the current combination of Internet album leaks and
current economic hardships, but to have 9/11 as a fail-safe to
garner money makes these labels no different than the hawkers
selling placemats and postcards with pictures of the Twin Towers
in flames over by the Fulton St. subway station.

9/11 should never have been or continue to
be a means to an exploitative end.

(Image by Zina Salburg)

Which brings me to another point. If you look at your calendars, you
will see that 9/11 is referred to as 'Patriot Day'. And when you look at
certain people who call themselves 'patriots', you have no choice but
to shake your head in utter disbelief. Because 'patriots' have pissed
away so much time and money that the rebuilding of the World Trade
Center is delayed to the point that it won't be ready by the promised
time - which happens to be the tenth year anniversary of 9/11.
Because of 'patriots' such as the crackpot in New Hampshire who walked
around a town hall meeting site where President Obama was to
protest health care reform. Because of 'patriots' such as Sarah Palin
who is proving to be dangerous because of her misguided patriotism
hidden behind verbal attacks on the present administration and her
own transparent hunger for power. Ponder what 'patriot' means to
hopeless bigots in Brooks Brothers leisurewear such as Glenn Beck
and Sean Hannity who are the vanguard of conservative fueled
ignorance. Think about what it means to be a 'patriot' when people
such as the Minutemen out west are responsible for hate fueled
invective and crimes, in one case being murder.

Think about that term very hard when it comes to these people
because if they are considered to be 'patriots', then this nation
is in for a world of hurt. These false patriots have tarnished the
memory of the 3,000 plus people who lost their lives on 9/11 in
an unapologetic fashion. And as an American, you should be
disgusted by their actions. 9/11 should never been or continue
to be a means to an exploitative end. We have an opportunity
to help America regain and restore its luster as a country of
freedom of ideals, a place of expression without repression.
9/11 should come to mind when people speak ill of immigrants.
Think about every young man and woman fighting and dying in
places like Fallujah and Tora Bora for our country because
they bore witness to 9/11 and were moved to demonstrate their
patriotism. And most importantly, we should use 9/11 as a day
to reach out to each other as friends, as family.
Because that is the true sense of patriotism this country needs.
And it's not beyond our grasp.