Welcome back to The Bootleg. Judging from the empty space underneath where the tree would be (if we bought one), it’s obvious that Santa did not get the change of address card that The Camerons sent to him. Well, another holiday season has come and gone, and with itâ€¦the cold, cold realization that this was my last ever child-free Christmas.
Xmas 2003: The wife’s aunt came down from Sacramento on Christmas Eve to help us unpack and get settled in to our new digs. On the 25th, the three of us dined on turkey with a fraction of the fixins, threw everything in the dishwasher and crashed on the couch, loveseat and floor.
Xmas 2004: Me and Mrs. Bootleg put our eight-month old son into one of the following outfits:
a.) Baby Santa Suit with a baby-sized beard.
b.) Baby Reindeer Suit with a baby-sized screw-on red nose n’ optional felt antlers.
c.) Baby Christmas Star ensemble that Maggie sports on every holiday episode of The Simpsons
d.) A Velvety Soft Crown Royal bag with holes cut out for the arms and legs.
From there, we’ll be expected to drive or fly to the home of a predetermined family member, so that we can all spend Baby’s First Christmas together. I’ll try’n contain my excitement at that feculent family-filled possibility.
I mean, what’s not to loveâ€¦? Heyâ€¦perhaps Baby Bootleg can be influenced by my unemployed n’ living-at-home fraternal twin brother? We’re actually thinking about legally changing his name to “Joey from Roc“.
Or maybe we should spend next Christmas with the in-laws in Ogden, Utah? That way, instead of the wife’s mother leaving us six freakin’ voice mails a day to tell us whether it’s snowing or notâ€¦we could just look out the window and see for our God damn selves.
Either way, we’ll be coming home with about five times the amount of crap that we originally left with. In fact, we’ll probably have to rent a car with more trunk space, especially for this impending trek. Unfortunately, my 1998 Saturn SL2 consistently rates at or near the bottom of Consumer Reports Annual Guide to Immigrant Smuggling. I’m gonna need something with the equivalent of five to six Nationals in the trunk, easy.
Need a resolution you’re sure to keepâ€¦? Embrace more Goodnessâ€¦
P.Sâ€¦Happy Birthday to m’dawg Vig
Rap music’s current tag team champions are in line for their own TV show. Redman and Method Man are preparing to shoot a sitcom pilot for the Fox Network (yeah, I’m shocked, too) that would place the duo in a predominately white suburb of New Jersey. Hilarity ensues, I imagine. Anyone remember when Fox was the alternative for the formulaic entrails of network television? And, yes, I can only be talking about Parker Lewis Can’t Lose.
For the 90% of you that I’ve lost already, it was a lot like Ferris Bueller, except funny. Now, some of the show’s fans tuned in for the sharp writing and unique camera angles. Others enjoyed the eccentric characters like Man Mountain Kubiak or the gothically gay mincing of Lemmer. But for meâ€¦it began and ended with the sensationally short skirts preferred by the Miss Musso character. If only I had a Swatch to synchronize.
I’m Your Huckleberry
Over the years, Pepsi has tried just about anything to snag whatever bit of Coke’s market share that they could get. Unfortunately, gimmicks like Pepsi Blue and Crystal Pepsi were propped up on millions of dollars of hype, only to fail to deliver when the curtain went up. Think of them as the 2003 New York Yankees in refreshing beverage form. So, it’s back to the comfortable confines of celebrity endorsements as Pepsi has turned to music supastar Pink to lead their current international campaign. Incidentally, Pink will be featured tonight on VH1’s Awesomely Bad Girls special.
Much to my disappointment, this is not a celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the all-girl western movie of the same name. Y’seeâ€¦back in 1992, Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven opened the floodgates for Hollywood to revisit the Old West. Except for the kick-ass Tombstone, the results ranged from “unbelievably awful” (Posse) to “even worse” (Bad Girls). Who’d have thought that a story of four prostitutes in leather chaps and spurs wouldn’t hold my interestâ€¦but there ya go.
I’d Rather Drink Mountain Dew
The phenomenon that is Lil Jon continuesâ€¦It’s expected that you’ll soon be able to find the world’s worst rapper locked in the refrigerator of a 7-11 near you. No, Jeff Fernandez has not decided to act on his hourly desires of death to this gold-toofed toadâ€¦it seems that Lil’ Jon has simply found a market over saturated with highly-caffeinated, funny-tasting “energy drinks” and said, “me too”.
His new beverage is called (wait for it) “Crunk” and was inspired by a video he recently shot. I can’t remember the name, but y’all know which one I mean, right? It’s the one where he’s screaming a lot and holding an obnoxiously huge novelty gobletâ€¦kinda sounds like a Black Gilbert Gottfried. There, that should narrow it down.
Well, If Lil’ Jon Can Put Out Platinum Albumsâ€¦
Everyone’s favorite Star Trek captain is planning to drop a new album later this year. Despite his excellent work in the musical number on the “Stonecutters” episode of The Simpsons, it’s not Patrick Stewart. Nope, toupeed troubadour William Shatner has designs on continuing his musical legacy and has enlisted the help of Henry Rollins and Joe Jackson to ensure that not one, but three careers are destroyed simultaneously.
Believe it or not, this will triple Shatner’s previous post-Star Trek record in this category as the career of Adrian Zmed has never fully recovered from the T.J. Hooker experience. Oh sure, Zmed entertained us all in Bachelor Party, but when your claims to fame are being the middle man for “Max the Magical Sexual Mule” and the final host of Dance Feverâ€¦Hey, maybe it’s Tom Hanks, instead of William Shatner, who wields this great career curse on others. I could’ve swore I saw Peter Scolari workin’ the drive-up window at Starbucks. Or was it the dog from Turner & Hooch?
Oklahomaâ€¦LSUâ€¦USCâ€¦college football fans everywhere want to know if there can be one undisputed champion. The rest of us will be watching to see Nokia’s new marketing campaign featuring m’man Snoop Dogg. In the commercials, Snoop will try to find out which celebrity guest is out to steal the BCS National Championship trophy. I haven’t seen any of the ads yet, but I can’t be alone in hoping that, along with the trophy, someone steals Snoop’s whole “izzle fizzle” jargon from the pop culture landscape.
I suppose we could all just wait this out and hope it goes the way of “Where’s The Beef”, “Wazzup” and Pepsi’s Uh-Huh girls, but I don’t know if America has that kind of patience. I mean, what will it take for our country to act on this? Have y’all not heard the Old Navy spots with Fran Drescher slipping in an “izzle”? The Nanny, people, in her ear-bleeding Queens dialect. This must be stopped.
I Don’t Wanna Come Between Youâ€¦Or Do I?
Well, it ain’t exactly Ricky Steamboat vs. Randy Savage, but it’ll have to do. Pop divas Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera are feuding. Christina lobbed the first grenade when she called Britney “a lost little girl desperately in need of guidance” in the December issue of Blender magazine. Ms. Spears fired back in this month’s issue by relating an unflattering story about Christina and where she tried to put her tongue during an encounter with Britney a few years ago. I am not making this up.
I sincerely hope that y’all appreciate how lucky you are to live in an era where two ridiculously hot chicks can have a public beef with a whisper of lesbian overtones. When I was a kid, all I could look to were the weekly grandma duels between Linda Evans & Joan Collins on Dynasty or the occasional Sensational Sherri title defense. OK, I also had a young Madonnaâ€¦but, back then, everyone else did, too. Is this thing on?
conceptualized by Nick Salemi
Bigg Nick goes that extra mile and compiles The Best of the Goodness for 2003. I swear he did this on his own without any prompting from me. I swear.
Well it’s January 2, 2004. It’s time we take time to all reflect on the past year’s events. OK, I’m done.
Love him or hate his reviews, you gotta admit he’s a funny m’fer! Ladies and gentlemen, pay homage to one of the greatest comedic minds of our time! My personal favorite lines from Bootleg 2K3…Think of it as Aaron Cameron: Year One.
Seriously, is there anyone who didn’t see this day coming when ODB first broke onto the scene? There’s no word on how long he’ll be at Arkham Asylum, but he’ll fit in nicely with Harvey Dent, Pamela Isley and Edward Nygma. – And I thought only Mathan would get this one.
quick aside: A few years ago, my mom came down to visit me and we decided to catch a movie. I selected 8 MM, featuring the aforementioned Mr. Cage. I have never spent a more uncomfortable two hours in my life. Check that, the ride home was painful, too, as I had to explain the whole “snuff film” industry to her. – Probably the one line(s) that’s pulled in the most feedbackâ€¦even today.
McCartney was unavailable for comment at press time, but I can’t be the only one wondering what McCartney’s version of When We Ride On Our Enemies would sound like. – Anyone else remember the brief feud between McCartney and Michael Jackson?
If my inbox is any indication, the LAPD can look forward to dozens of letters in all caps from cats named NellyFubuAF1@aol.com that say “2PAC RULS U SUKK”. – Never give out your email address to rap fans.
Think of me as a less threatening version of Wayne Brady…Finally, throw away your caps. In college, my various Oakland caps were the foundation of my wardrobe. Now, they sit dusty and alone in the closet along with my hopes, dreams, porn and ambition. – Don’t tell my wifeâ€¦she thinks she crushed all my hope.
Don’t worry, dawgâ€¦you ain’t ever gonna find my black ass within three area codes of the Magnolia Projects. Any place where kids wanna grow up to be like the Cash Money Crew or the afternoon manager at Popeye’s ain’t for me. But, if you do make T-Shirts, I want them all to say “best vacation ever”! – I fire back at the Hot Boys fans.
Fortunately, I’m hardened by seven months of marriage, my job that I hate and the fact that I’m the only Black man in America who drives a Saturn – Please kill me now.
(On Britney Spears)Does she star in a coming-of-age teen movie with acting that could politely be compared to the exact moment that dog sh!t turns white? – So much for that Britney interview.
And Mariah Carey? This is the woman that wore a Michael Jordan jersey as a fitted evening gown. Don’t get me wrong, she looked hotter’n fish grease, but then every 17 year old with a 2-way and 20 pounds of baby fat started wearin’ those jersey dresses and the results weren’t pretty. – I’d Still Do ‘Em.
My favorite line from the flaming inbox of bile came from AOL user “therealjigga69”.
“Does your wife know she married a bitch?” – The Line of the Yearâ€¦not even close.
I looked over to my right to find a corn rowed brutha bumpin’ Eazy-E while low-ridin’ in one of those Cooper Mini’s. Next to the time I saw rims on a Ford Taurus, this was the funniest car-related thang ever. – With the spoiler on my Saturn a close third.
If, after three days of cold hot dogs and warm beer, you feel like giving that sweaty special someone a stab from your ‘pork sword’, for the love of Jeebus: wear a freakin’ jimmy hat. – A Bootleg PSA.
Hey, while you’re there, pick me up some apple Jolly Ranchers. Is that still the official candy of Black folk? – Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton threatened to march on Widro for this one.
Mrs. Bootleg’s birthday is this Sunday and to say that it snuck up on me would be an understatement. I need gift ideas, kids. What do you get for a 4’8″ Black woman who can eat her weight in grinders, heroes, hoagies n’ subs? – It’s probably a good thing she doesn’t read my column.
Fifty dollars? Jesus, back in the day, I coulda bought a Luke Skywalker (in X-Wing fighter gear), a detachable C-3PO, the Darth Vader carrying case and still have enough coin left over to buy 2 dozen of those “Mumford Phys. Ed. Dept.” t-shirts that Beverly
Hills Cop made popular for about a minute in 1984. – And I think I could still buy an original Ram-Man action figure with the change.
Hey, speakin’ of drugs, on my way to HBO’s East Coast Feed of Real Sex, I caught a glimpse of Matthew Perryâ€¦I think the phrase “you look like shit” should officially be retired and awarded to him. – Well, have you seen him lately?
The wife proudly modeled two pair of maternity fat pants for me this week. I tried my best to feign interest, until she told me that these two pairs of potato sacks cost 70 bucks total. How the hell does someone spend that kind of money on something they’re gonna oink out of in three or four weeks? At least with hookers, you know the money is goin’ to the nurturing hands of their pimps. – I think I was still in denial at this point.
Rememberâ€¦anyone can make a babyâ€¦it takes a real man to be a fatherâ€¦and only a pussy-whipped biiatch would butter up his wife’s Buddha belly. – The Joys of a Pregnant Wife.
Please. I’d guess 1% of society actually lives out their childhood dream (HBK as WWE Champion, for example). The rest of us settleâ€¦except for my brother. When we were kids, he distinctly told me that he wanted to be an unemployed 30-year-old living with our mom and sleepin’ until 2:00 PM everyday. Sometimes dreams do come true. – My brother is a lazy bastard.
If it’s a boy, he’ll grow to be all of 5’5″ (thanks to my 4’8″ wife) with a head shaped like E.T.’s (thanks to me). He’ll go dateless until I buy him his first hooker at 21 and live at home until his eventual arrest for voyeurismâ€¦a victimless crime. – My kid will either be Spud Webb or a gymnast.
I’ve always wondered why the Autobots didn’t recruit more “robots of color”. I mean, Jazz was pretty much Optimus Prime’s right-hand man and a loyal soldier for years. They couldn’t find room for one more brutha? And spare me your votes for Blaster. It’s no secret that he was built in the suburbs of Cybertron and enrolled in all the best schools. – On Autobot Quotas.
That’s like how the Dinobots used Proposition 48 to gain entry into the Autobots. I’m all for affirmative action, but they couldn’t even form a goddam sentence for cryin’ out loud. – When Grimlock Attacks.
Instead, viewers were treated to two hours of that yuletide pear Kelly Clarkson and Ruben Studdard sweatin’ like Mike Rotundo. Nothin’ says “Christmas” better than chunky Texans and glistening forehead rolls. – The Pain of An American Idol Christmas.
All good things must come to an end. Last week, our man Smilo went all Justin Timberlake on Fernandez and me and left his Sunday gig for a better timeslot. Jeff and I aren’t bitter at the demise of our weekend 3 Tha Hard Way unit, though. We wish Elliot the very best and are certain he’ll continue the successful legacy of Shelley Long, David Caruso, Jimmy Smits, Joe Piscopo, Chyna and anyone else who thought they were bigger than they really were.
Smilo completes his turn to the dark side by aligning withâ€¦Biscuiti? Oh, and he also gives you his Year-End Spectacular with an assload of awards n’ accolades.
Fernandez sez “Feliz CumpleaÃ±os”â€¦to himself, while dusting off the remnants of Super Mario Bros. 2 and John Collins.
Mathan expands the saccharine pap of holiday songs to other days on the calendar. It also snowed earlier this week in his current home of Las Vegas, so we’ll expect something on that next week.
Evocatorâ€¦with an entire column of nice? And another year-end spectacular? His two best columns of the year, kids.
The Obligatory Year In Review Piece
Every year, at about this time, some of the best writers in world lean heavily upon the familiar crutch of a year-end list of some kind. The best of this, the worst of thatâ€¦it’s all entirely subjective and requires little more than actually having been alive during the preceding 12 months to observe all the things that you loved or hated.
Let’s seeâ€¦aliveâ€¦requires little effortâ€¦yep, I qualify. So, won’t you hop into the wayback machine with me as we look back on 2003? These are just a few random categories that popped into my head:
Top 10 News Stories in Hip Hop
10.) Ludacris/Bill O’Reilly Beef – Rap music’s King of the South locks horns with the conservative Fox commentator over Luda’s endorsement deal with Pepsi. The rapper is eventually dropped by Pepsi after O’Reilly stirred up enough public opposition to force the cola company’s hand.
9.) Beyonce’s Breakthrough – As one of the most anticipated solo albums of the year, the erstwhile member of Destiny’s Child delivered the sales numbers to make her debut, Dangerously In Love a multi-platinum smash. Throw in a high-profile romance with Jay-Z, a starring role with Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding, Jr. and a litany of endorsement opportunitiesâ€¦I gotta say, it was a good year.
8.) Outkast Again – Cutting edge or overrated? Crossover sensations or a non-threatening alternative for white hip hop fans? Whichever side of the argument you’re on, there’s no denying that their uniquely divergent double album, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below was a fitting opus for the skewed vision (genius?) of Big Boi and Andre 3000.
7.) Jay-Z’s Swan Song? – Yeah, yeah, yeahâ€¦we all know that Jigga will be back in the not-too-distant future. But, that didn’t lessen the hype surrounding the release of The Black Album, which is reportedly Jay-Z’s final release. Rap retirements are often written in pencil, not pen, but if this is the last we hear from Shawn Carter, he’ll leave the game knowing that he might be the artist who is most synonymous with the genre (Non-Pac/Biggie Division).
6.) 50 Cent/Ja Rule Feud – For months, fans have watched this beef play out on the airwaves and on the record shelves. They’ve exchanged diss tracks, inflammatory interviews and gallons of bad blood. For all intents and purposes, 50 Cent is the undisputed “winner” of this battle, as Ja Rule’s dwindling credibility was finally exhausted with the release of Blood In My Eye. The public ignored the glorified diss record entirely, while firmly siding behind Curtis Jackson.
5.) Eminemâ€¦Racist? – Once “The Bible of Hip Hop”, The Source magazine has devolved into a slanted propaganda rag that pushes the agenda of its owner, Raymond “Benzino” Scott. He and Eminem have been at odds for over a year and a few weeks ago, Benzino produced a dated recording of Slim Shady using a racial epithet on wax. Em eventually apologized and the majority of the Hip Hop community has decided to move on, but with a new album on the way in 2004, this story (and it’s potential impact, if any) bears following.
4.) Missy Elliot Rocks the VMA’s – Love her or hate her, for years Missy Elliot has had a starring role in some of the most innovative and visually spectacular video ever made. She finally got her due at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards, snagging the coveted moon man for “Video of the Year”. She was openly blasted by those who were pulling for Johnny Cash, but the best video won out and Missy was given her deserved moment in the sun.
3.) The Inexplicable Rise of Crunk – Here in Southern California, we’ve managed to steer clear of many of the more annoying rap music trends over the years. When Master P and No Limit Records owned the Billboard Charts a while back, you’d never hear something from them on our radio stations. When the Midwest made their move with Nelly and his crew, we’d only get the one or two major singles and nothing else. Yet somehowâ€¦somewayâ€¦crunk found its way onto our airwaves. These days Lil’ Jon, The Eastside Boys and The Ying Yang Twins are everywhere and with each rotation, they’re slowing dumbing down the entirety of the rap populace.
2.) And The Oscar Goes Toâ€¦ – For the first time in the thousand year history of The Academy Awards, the Oscar for Best Original Song went toâ€¦(gasp!) a rapper. Eminem scored with his single Lose Yourself from the soundtrack to the movie, 8 Mile. There wasn’t a soul who thought the Academy would be ballsy enough to hand over the naked gold man to a guy who a few years earlier was up to his ass in homophobic controversy, but fortunately the old farts who vote on these things were able to look past that and reward the best in the field.
1.) The 50 Cent Phenomenon – His uneven solo debut, notwithstanding, this was the year of 50. There hadn’t been a more anticipated first album since Snoop Doggy Dogg’s, 10 years earlier, and in the eyes of 50’s fansâ€¦he came through. Powered by the Dr. Dre laced single, In Da Club, 50 Cent ran roughshod over his competition. He also found time to join forces with Reebok on a new shoe line, oversee the release of the G-Unit album and become the number one name in the game.
Best Mainstream Single of the Year
If you heard it in heavy rotation in 2003, then it’s a nominee. I narrowed my choices down to 10 cuts, but I couldn’t justify anything other than In Tha Club by 411’s favorite cherub, Mr. Cent. I love the beat, I love the video and if ever there was an example of one song making an entire careerâ€¦here it is. And I can’t believe I’m typing thisâ€¦but give the silver medal to Ludacris’ Act A Fool.
Worst Mainstream Single of the Year
It’s too easy to say something like: anything crunk. It’s true, of courseâ€¦but it’s too easy. There was no shortage of garbage on “urban” airwaves this year, but I’m going with Magic Stickâ€¦the 50 Cent/Lil’ Kim abomination. 50’s off-key hook, a complete lack of chemistry between the two rappers and the fact that it seemed to get played ten times an hour makes it a clear cut “winner” in my mind. Like A Pimp by David Banner and the condescending I Can by Nas also received votes.
Mainstream Album of the Year
Twas an unbelievably wack year for big-label musicâ€¦but, there were a few gems to shine through the dreck. In something of an upset, I’m going with Obie Trice’s debut Cheers. It sank right outta the Billboard Charts, primarily due to the one-dimensional first single Got Some Teeth, but the rest of the album is thick with hot beats and shockingly tight lyrics. Honorable mentions go out to Joe Budden and Gangstarr.
Album of the Year
This guy. You buy now.
F*cked Up Moments In Pretend Football
The first annual 411 Fantasy Football season came to an end with one of the knuckle draggers over in the wrestling section winning it all. After squeaking out a win in the opening round of the playoffs, Team Bootleg was set for their semi-final match-up.
Going into the 12/22 Monday Night game, my fake team had a commanding 23.33-point lead with only my opponent’s quarterback to be accounted for. His QB for the evening was Green Bay’s Brett Favreâ€¦who needed three TD passes and 300 yards in the air to beat me.
Quick aside: earlier that day, the wife and I had Thai food for lunch and it gave us both a touch of food poisoning. Six hours later, as I drifted in and out of consciousness from the fetal position, I would nod off and occasionally look up to see Favre throw yet another 120 yard pass against the pathetic Raiders’ defense. Needless to say, with the spirit of his dead father possessing his mighty arm, Favre bounced my team right outta the playoffs.
Life With Mrs. Bootleg
So you’re thinkin’ about getting your girl knocked up? Here’s what you’re in store for:
On our first night in the new Stately Bootleg Manor, the wife and I were absolutely exhausted. The bed was finally put back together, so after dinner, we crashed upstairs in front of the only working TV in the house. How tired were weâ€¦? The local UPN affiliate was showing that 1996 comedy classic Eddie with Whoopi Goldberg as the coach of the New York Knicks and a steaming load of NBA players flexing their acting muscles.
Well, the remote control to the TV was downstairs and neither one of us had the strength to shuffle the three or four paces to the cable box to get the images of Whoopi and her black-azz lips off our screen.
A few hours later, at 1:10 AM to be precise, the wife wakes me up from one of those near-death sleeps. Y’all know the oneâ€¦usually they occur right after you pull that all-nighter before your Statistics final.
“Something’s moving in one of the boxes.”, she says.
“What?”, I replied while realizing if I killed her now, I’d be tried for a double homicide and on the wrong end of a lot of bad press in this conservative town.
“Come see, it’s downstairsâ€¦”, she responded.
I stagger down to find about six boxes stacked in two separate columns of three. The wife’s freshly slaughtered remains of a slab of chocolate crÃ¨me pie lay next to them.
It appeared that one of the stacks was veryâ€¦slowlyâ€¦collapsing on itself and the wife heard the sound of crumpling cardboard. Perhaps if she noticed that one stack was perfectly upright, while the other was leaning like your drunk uncle against your newly developing cousin, she wouldn’t have woke me up from my slumber.
I gotta go back to work on Monday. Get at me on AOL or Yahoo IM: ajcameron13