The Friday Music News Bootleg

But, Before We Begin”¦

“Longtime Bootleg reader, first time Junk Mail contributor. You and Nick kick ass, blah, blah, blah, “man-crush”, etc. I’d just like to point out that last year, Nick mocked Ralph Wiley and he unexpectedly died a week later. Last week, you mocked New Orleans and a few days later, they’re under water. I think the obvious question, on the lips of all your readers is: ‘Can you say a few words about Kanye West?’ Just wondering.”

-Derek J.

Welcome back to The Bootleg. In what’s become our country’s second-favorite irregularly unnatural holiday tradition (well, behind this thing, anyway) it’s time for the Bootleg to reward the half-dozen or so holiday weekend readers that Inside Pulse inevitably hopes for.

It was Memorial Day weekend 2004, when Nick and me debuted the acrimonious acronym, MFWNTAK. And, while the rest of you were still digesting your Thanksgiving turduckens, we were right here, picking apart the undercooked carcass of Entertainment Weekly’s top 25 rap albums list, piece by piece.

So, with my first Labor Day Weekend column since 2003, we found inspiration from a reader:

AJC…I loved the long-overdue shot at Kerry Washington and her role in Fantastic Four. I guess you had to get it in while you can, since we all know that the shelf life of the Black actress is about one or two feature films. Thandie Newton, Sanaa Lathan, hell even “Lisa” from Saved by the Bell got to be in Def Jam’s How to be a Player, before falling off the face of the earth. They need a telethon…Jessie C.

A telethon? Ummm, I’m thinking the current events copyright on that concept is, shall we say, “taken”. So, we came up with the next best way to combine “entertainment” with “making a statement””¦and all without having to include traditional telethon hangers-on, Willie Tyler and Lester. Not to be confused with Webster.

So, join me on this 10-week midseason replacement run as an assortment of anonymous African-American women attempt to”¦out-Black, out-sass and out-exaggerated finger snap one another, all on: Black Actress Survivor! And, you’re all in for a treat as this feature’s co-writing credit of “interchangeable Caucasian” goes to J.A.M.’s own Movie Joe Reid (whose lifetime on-line literary motto should be: “When you can’t get Nick”¦”)

And, it begins”¦

Week 1: After paddling to the shores of their deserted island, Sanaa Lathan and Kerry Washington get to the business of starting a fire, while Kim Fields and Tatyana Ali squabble over water-gathering duties. After a grueling immunity challenge, Marla Gibbs becomes the token old lady voted off first.

Week 2: This week opens with a shocking and surprising development as Jackeé and Kim Coles wash ashore like a pair of beached beluga whales. Cold, heavy and hungry (natch), the pair (ham) sandwich themselves into each tribe. Mere minutes before the eventual elimination of Nia Long, there’s tomfoolery afoot! The final two votes against Nia come from former Cosby Kids, Keisha Knight-Pulliam and Tempestt Bledsoe, who were buried in the back fat of castaways Kim and Jackeé. The unemployed pair had been presumed dead and eaten”¦by the full-figured sista who starred opposite of Halle Berry in B.A.P.S. (which is actually the new legal name for Natalie Desselle).

Week 3: Strategy is the name of the game in week three, as alliances start to build. Regina Hall is approached by Regina King for a partnership based on their shared . . . loathing of Tisha Campbell. Tisha, meanwhile, seeks refuge in a proposed “Boomerang” alliance with Halle Berry and Eartha Kitt. That plan falls through when Eartha tries for one purring voiceover too many and accidentally chokes to death.

After flying under the radar for the first two weeks, Jennifer Beals is voted out for “trying to pass.” At tribal council, a shifty-eyed Jasmine Guy and Rae Dawn Chong realize they’re gonna need a new game plan.

Week 4: “The Parkers'” Countess Vaughn and Mo’Nique emerge from the island’s twin tar pits of UPN Cancellation-cum-BET Syndication. However, the two were no match for resident island muscle, Marsha Warfield, who single-handedly knocks the New Natural Disasters back into the abyss of Black Entertainment Television and an eternity as the lead-in for “Eve”.

Meanwhile, Lela Rochon and Theresa Randle return from their most recent vestiges of relevancy (1997’s “Gang Related” and “Spawn”, respectively) and immediately start beef with Angela Bassett. Their good-natured potshots (“Why come you ain’t green, She-Hulk?”) precede more personal attacks, until Bassett finally snaps. With their respective throats held tight in her man-hands, the last words that either Rochon or Randle hear is, “That was Wesley Snipes in ‘To Wong Foo’! You can tell because he was Blacker, bitch!”

Week 5: By the time the fifth week rolls around, these ladies are getting on each others’ nerves. Gabrielle Union just will not stop with the “this one time with Morris Chestnut” and “that other movie I did with Morris” stories. Jennifer Lewis finally has to tell her to shut the hell up. Elsewhere, a jonesing Macy Gray takes a knife to Vivica A. Fox’s hair extensions in an ill-fated attempt to smoke them.

At tribal council, the Aged Alliance of Mary Alice, Cicely Tyson, and Irma P. Hall team up to give Robin Givens the knockout punch that Mike never gave her. As Givens gets her torch snuffed, an inebriated Macy Gray (she found a toad to lick) can be heard slurring “from ‘Head of the Class’ to out on your ass, bitch!”

Week 6: Food is getting scarce. For the last seven days, both tribes have been forced to subsist off the scraps and seaweed stuck between Paula Jai Parker’s 63 teeth. Even worse, it appears that T’Keyah “Crystal” Keymah island-inspired “fishbones n’ coconut” African-American hair and beauty care products have the women looking like the remains of Rain Pryor. A sullen and silent S. Epatha Merkerson is voted off the island, as she could not muster up a word in her own defense. The Law & Order star is only used to one or two lines in prime time per week. Sadly, she filled her quota with a quip on how she DOES look similar to a shaven Gregory Hines.

Week 7: Week seven sees the tribes merge and make camp at a smaller, more remote island. They make their move at night, and they wait until Wanda Sykes falls asleep before they go, leaving her behind to relive her glory days of Pootie Tang all alone. Nona Gaye keeps trying to find an alliance to join, but sadly, unlike with the Matrix sequels, Aaliyah’s not around to die so a spot can open up for her.

Lisa Nicole Carson and Loretta Devine engage in an epic breasts-vs-breasts showdown that’s been in the making ever since their first altercation in the David E. Kelley staff lounge back in 1999.

And finally, after weeks and weeks of putting up with her constant challenge-time exhortations of “Come on! It’s all in the face! Pow! Fierce! What!” Tyra Banks is finally sent packing to her other reality show.

Week 8: It’s the start of sweeps month and, in a blatant grab for ratings, both women who played Mrs. Vivian Banks on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” are sharing quality on-screen island time. Admittedly, it doesn’t make for the most riveting TV, as Janet Hubert-Whiten and Daphne Maxwell-Reid have patched up most of their long-existing differences, with only one unsettled issue left open for discussion: What was up with the casting of Karyn Parsons as the oldest Banks kid? Were producers just trying to capitalize on the Cosby Show’s random mocha-colored child quota? And, in a surprising twist, Queen Latifah is voted off as the status of “one-time Academy Award nominee” couldn’t outweigh her current standing of “one-time star of Beauty Shop and Taxi”.

Week 9: Let the mad charge to the finale begin, with multiple tribal councils seeing casualties falling left and right. Erika Alexander, bereft of her Living Single alliance-mates, proves easy pickings. In a shocking development, Lynn Whitfield and Alfre Woodard both look at each other and can’t believe they’re stuck on the same island as these no-talent sitcom has-beens and up and row the canoe back to respectability. And a dearth of Hollywood roles for them.

Kimberly Elise keeps trying to get Oprah on the phone so she can call in a few favors that she built up on the set of Beloved (letting O have the last Boston Cream has its benefits), but she and Thandie Newton keep tying up the lines, and they’re both given the boot.

And at long last, Ruby Dee is voted off, as a jealous (and clueless) Holly Robinson Peete exclaims “Mother Sister?! That doesn’t even make sense!”

Week 10: The final tribal council draws closer, and thus the biggest threats to win become the biggest targets.

Fearing the tremendous sway they’ll have with the jury (the jury being filled with old gay men for some reason), Diahann Carroll and Lena Horne are dispatched in short order.

Jada Pinkett Smith, who had been flying under the radar (literally, she was too short to be picked up by detection equipment), gets noticed when Vanessa L. Williams trips over her. Having saved the best for last, Vanessa engineers Jada’s ouster.

Meanwhile, former ER stars Michael Michelle and Khandi Alexander team up to vote out Anna Deveare Smith, having grown wary of the woman’s surprisingly prominent jowls and the damage they could cause after a month without proper nourishment.

And, finally, with the surprise elimination of Elise Neal and a landslide jury vote over Sheryl Lee Ralph (during which the jury fiercely debated exactly how Sheryl came to be famous anyway), the winner of Black Actress Survivor is finally crowned . . .

The one . . .

The only . . .

The eternally teenaged . . .

Stacey Dash!

Want to experience the real essence of Goodness? It doesn’t take much.

(BTW, we’re taking next week off to shop for Mrs. Bootleg’s birthday present. Enjoy this week’s supersized Bootleg!)

Knightfall”¦HA! I Kill Me!

Suge Knight, the one-time threatening rap impresario-turned-Black version of the late-career caricature of Marlon Brando, was shot in the leg during a celebrity VMA party last weekend down in Miami.

Knight was found slumped over on a couch in the VIP section of the Shore Club with a towel over his fat Uncle Phil face and blood pooling on the floorboards beneath him. Early, and eventually erroneous reports described the shooting suspect as “a Black man in a pink shirt”.

Well, that narrows it down.

And, I’m serious about this”¦I mean, Black man”¦pink shirt”¦I’m immediately imagining rapper Cam’ron (2005 version) or writer (Aaron) Cameron (1985 version). Hey, what can I say”¦the influence of Phillip Michael Thomas emanated through every elementary school. Y’see, what you won’t learn on I Love The ’80s is that back then, us light-skinned kids only had two role models”¦Tubbs and Prince, a pair of one-named mulattos that preceded the bleached remains of Michael’s Bad album cover by three years.

We’d have to wait until the ’90s before Derek Jeter, Mariah Carey and Alicia Keys struck a blow against the onslaught of dark-skinned African-Americans established within the entertainment industry like, um”¦well, let’s see, there’s that guy from Amistad“¦umm, Bernie Mac“¦oh, and of course, Koko B. Ware.

Now, That’s What I Call Segue (“Segway”, kids), Volume 19

It’s been nearly 10 years since anyone gave a flying f*** about The Fugees, but that won’t stop the cacophony of coffeehouse Caucasians or the un-bathed backpack-wearing b-boys from welcoming the group’s first single since forever.

Take It Easy is expected to be serviced for radio within three to four weeks and I can already hear the squeals of “real Hip Hop!” from the same folks who self-fellate at the altar of Outkast.

The current industry buzz is that this track will be reminiscent of their freshman effort, Blunted on Reality, which means The Fugees might actually be writing their own material this time around. Y’know, if we could just reinvent all of the retroactive reverence that follows The Fugees around. People”¦they peaked in 1996 and that was only because they were in the right place at the right time.

Don’t believe me”¦? Then, I’ve got 3 ½ words for you: “Bone Thugs N Harmony”…they took advantage of the absence of mainstream talent that year (Coolio? Skee-Lo?) and dropped Crossroads. By 1997, that video’s muscle-bound brutha in the fake-ass angel wings took what was left of the Bone Thugs career and put it next to that old man whose eyes turn ebony and (I miss my) Uncle Charles.

Don’t be swayed by the syndicated success of What’s Happening Now!. You can’t go home again.

Y’see, Dwayne, there’s a name for grown men who walk into a room and exclaim, “Hey, hey, hey!” And, oddly enough, it rhymes with”¦ah, damn it. I’m handcuffed in this era of political correctness. Is it too late to make a joke about Fred “Rerun” Berry’s mince n’ prance slap dance?

Oh. Well. Moving on, then.

Rona Barrett is a Dirty Pirate Whore

Move over, uh, random celebrity couple that I’d know by name if I were one to regularly read People magazine. Dateline: Miami (yes, again)”¦who was spotted at the Prive at 2:30 AM hand-in-hand with Miss Mariah Carey? Why, it’s newly-made divorc锦Eddie Murphy!

According to that bastion of truth, the New York Daily News, the two shared a cozy corner in the darkened night spot last Friday night (well, Saturday morning) until almost sunrise at 6:00 AM. Publicists for both were quick to quash any rumors of amoré, as Murphy is legally still married.

Awww. Well, this is”¦this is just precious. And, since it is Hollywood (Florida), the obvious question is: who’s using who here? Does Mariah really do much for Eddie’s rep? I think it’s too late to save face, Axel Foley. Seriously”¦has there ever been a brutha who’s fallen so far in the fifteen years since his peak, while currently making questionable career decisions that keep him in the public eye to the point where we’re now laughing at him?

Well, besides him.

As for Mariah, I don’t care if Mimi Emancipates the last few slaves in the United States, it’s over. And, don’t think about crawling back to the Black community for comfort, Ms. Carey. We all know it’s been well-established that the only two ways to bring back one’s Blackness are to kill a white couple in a jealous rage or resurrect yourself from the ashes of the One Man Gang.

At least until you get acquitted or job to the Big Boss Man, then we want nothing to do with you.

“¦and I Can’t Wait to be Alone with My Baby Tonight

Country music’s Gretchen Wilson has caught flak from the Tennessee Attorney General’s office for her overt use of chewing tobacco. At several of her live shows, there are video screens that show Wilson pulling a can of Skoal smokeless tobacco out of her back pocket.

There is concern that the images could be in violation of a 1998 settlement between states and big tobacco that prohibits advertisements targeting young people. And, in showing just how concerned Wilson is about the whole affair, she’s set to debut her new single Skoal Ring, which refers to that little circular rise on the back of Billy Joe’s blue jeans from carrying a can of tobacco.

In the song, Wilson sings that she gets turned on from the taste of tobacco on the tongue of her man. Now, I know what you’re all thinking”¦”That’s not as funny as the usual Bootleg Brand of Unfunny Stuff”. That’s because it’s all true.

OK”¦now, I’ll admit that my people haven’t exactly put our best foot forward in the last few days. But, when redneck women are professing their preference for the sweet second-hand -tongue taste of chewed tobacco, well, it’s time for the state government to step in.

Y’know, Gretchen, you could completely bypass Sea Bass and just eat an ashtray. Or better yet, take your mule and forty acres (which, I’m told, we’re still owed) and start cross-breeding tobacco with tomato seeds.

The end result is: tomacco. At first bite, it’s terrible”¦but, it’s also smooth and mild and refreshingly addictive. And, look at the name: tomacco. That’s pretty clever for a product that’s evil and deadly.

What? It’s from The Simpsons.

I’ve been using them to pad uninteresting news items for more than 30 months.

Fine, you try to make people care about country music.

And, in a way that doesn’t involve Jeff Jarrett’s Ain’t I Great album.

Pfft”¦that’s what I thought.

Dad”¦I Think He’s Gonna Bjork Her!

Bjork makes her Bootleg debut this week and I think I speak for all my readers when I ask”¦”who?” Oh, I’m kidding”¦truth be told, I loved her in The Empire Strikes Back.

And, for her next role, she teams up with her boyfriend/director, Matthew Barney in the independent (natch) short film Drawing Restraint 9. (Hurry, Police Academy! Only two more to catch ’em!) Anyways, hold on tight as I take you through the plot: As if you couldn’t tell from the title, this is an anti-whaling flick.

Bjork and Barney play a couple who find themselves stuck on a whaling ship off the coast of Japan, where they see the ghastly imagery of the whaling industry, first hand. The pair then mutually agrees to chop off their legs, before mutating into whales.

I am not making this up.

For Christ’s sake, kids, this isn’t the makings of a good movie, it’s the basics of a bad batch. We’re talking about “Save the Whales, The Movie” here”¦motivated by a movement that stalled in the seventies and couldn’t be restarted by the awesome omnipotence of Orka.

Along the same lines, I can only ask what’s next in the menagerie of outdated message movies? The Coke Commercial Musical?

Teardrop: An Indian’s Tale?

Alien vs. Predator vs. Davey and Goliath?

Sometimes the News Nas Just Writes Itself II

For whatever reason, no other artist elicits the emotional response brought out by Nas, whenever he’s mentioned in The Bootleg. His last appearance here was two weeks ago and readers still have something to say, like this open letter to Nasir from reader Scott G:

“We have the latest chapter of The Musical Suicide of Nas, a/k/a: Nasir Jones, will you PLEASE stop PIMPING yourself for Platinum?

Yes, I admit, it must suck to see people with less talent than you get so much Bling-Bling fed to them that they crap diamonds and platinum, people with half your talent (Kanye), 1/3 your talent (50 Cent), ¼ your talent (Diddy), 1/8 your talent (Mike Jones), even people whose combination of incompetence and good luck stands as proof against the existence of a benevolent God (Lil Jon).

But Nas, ten solid years of trying to re-invent yourself Madonna-style has not even gotten you to platinum. Why not be the person you were back when you became famous, yourself? Even if you don’t get to platinum, you can have the self-respect of knowing that you did not pimp yourself out.

However, remember the albums that got you there were the ones where you were YOURSELF”¦if you want platinum so bad, why not go back to the actual formula that got you success in the first place, and no, I don’t mean calling your next album “Chillmatic.”, though that would probably be better than anything from the celebrity “producers” who are pretty much streamlining music into standardized product.”

Up next is reader Jimmy G, with even more to say to Nasir”¦

“So, this is what its come to for Nas? First, he marries a chick that 50 describes as smelling like “A guy after playing full-court basketball”, then he releases an awful double disc CD where he does manhood-questionable voice changes and now, he’s buying a 2 million dollar beat from a duo (The Neptunes) that haven’t used a different drum kit in 5 years? Also, who can forgive the man for making Belly?

I blame him for T-Boz’s bad acting and marrying Mack-10.

The reason I feel sorry for Nas is, in my opinion, he’s the only guy in rap to release back to back classics to start his career. The only rapper to be successful doing the Big/Pac heyday that didn’t go crazy, didn’t put out extremely crappy albums (Fugees, 3/4 of Wu-Tang, LL Cool J), didn’t appear in Soul Plane or the Red and Meth show ( Redman, Method Man, Snoop Dogg), or make a crappy song with Phil Collins (Bone Thugs).

He also destroyed Jay-Z, yet Hova still came out looking better at the end. Nothing was sadder to me than the Thief’s Theme video. Nas had what looked like silver caps in his mouth, the son of a bitch looked like an older version Lil’ Jon’s rapper, Lil Scrappy. Needless to say, he looked like a damn fool.

What really gets me about Nas is he can turn it on at anytime he wants to (see: Lost Tapes). Hey Nas, don’t try to make another Illmatic or It Was Written. Just make something better I Am, Nastradamus, God’s Son and the highly overrated Stillmatic.

Nick’a Please
conceptualized by Nick Salemi

Kanye West: Late Registration, the Review

Have you heard that Kanye West has a new CD out? Me, too. I realize I’m the 500th person to review it, so I’ll do my best to try to say something that hasn’t already been said.

First off, I have to address two things about Kanye that are always mentioned along with his name. First, I really don’t understand what the problem is with people complaining that he has a huge ego. Doesn’t every MC have to have some kind of ego to be successful? You’re telling me Jay Z didn’t talk about how great he was (is?) in every song?

It’s part of Hip Hop. Get used to it.

The second item, which I probably was guilty of when his first CD came out, is how everyone says he’s different because he talks about things “everyone” can relate to. The concern is that he’s about to be “Outkasted” and “Tribe Called Quested”…and I think you know what that means.

Not to worry though as it appears that West heeded the warning from Guru and has avoided falling prey to his memorable line”¦ “Maybe your soul you’d sell to have mass appeal”.

After much fanfare and anticipation, Late Registration has hit the shelves and West doesn’t disappoint. He’s teased the Hip Hop world with the two Diamonds From Sierra Leone tracks and Gold Digger for the past few months and finally delivers the entire work.

Generally speaking, it’s a great album.

You will not hear solid start to finish cohesive production like this anywhere else this year, other than fellow Chi-town rapper Common’s Be, which was produced by West as well. While he isn’t the greatest MC on the planet, he’s better than most of the noise passing for MCs these days. More importantly, as an MC he has developed his own distinct style and sound, instead of trying to be a 2Pac/Biggie/Jay Z clone.

While mileage varies on his lyrics, you can’t dispute Kanye’s production. This is the producer/artist hybrid Diddy couldn’t pay all the Sean John money in the bank to become.

The album clocks in at about an hour and 10 minutes and flows pretty well from one track to another. That being said, the skits are back serving the same purpose as they did on The College Dropout. I get the fact that he’s going for a theme but they get annoying after the first few listens. Otherwise, it’s a tour de force in sampling (heavy on soul samples, as always) and production that nothing I could type here would do justice. You really have to hear it for yourself.

Specifically, some of the better joints outside of the already mentioned Diamonds…and Gold Digger are We Major featuring Nas and Really Doe, a great late 70s/early 80s-sounding, amazing 7-minute track. The WAY TOO SHORT My Way Home f/ Common has no Kanye verse but leaves you wanting more due to the off the hook sample.

The only non-Kanye produced track is Touch the Sky, which was laced by Just Blaze and fits in perfectly with the album, and you probably wouldn’t notice without checking the CD jacket. Heard Em Say, Celebration and Gone are also solid …I’ll stop there because I’ll probably name most of the album.

(Note: don’t miss the hidden track Late that appears at the end of the disc like Jigga’s Breathe Easy from The Blueprint)

It’s tough, not to mention short sighted, to anoint this disc a classic after only having been out for a few days, so it’s probably best to see how this holds up over time. I’d be surprised it didn’t, though, as a lot of the stuff here has a timeless element demonstrated by the way he weaves new school Hip Hop with old school Hip Hop and soul.

If Aaron Cameron could rap I imagine he would say in the sing-songy Kanye voice:

Nicka Had lil’ bit too much of the Kan-ye flavored Kool-Aid
Holiday weekend Bootleg might as well post it on Doomsday

Have a great Labor Day weekend…and remember “the IP is still alive every time I write…”

General Haberdashery

Mathan has no words this week, but still writes a column. How’s he doing it? Easy, it’s magic. Black magic, that is! No? Nothing? Not even a titter. Oh, and watch praise longtime nemesis Dr. Dre, while simultaneously insulting him. Harvey Dent lives.

Shawn has more Tony Yayo, some tig ol’ bitties and gives away an iPod cell phone. OK, OK, I’m kidding. There’s really not that much more from Yayo. But, if you like your women with boobs and nice smiles, get to clickin’!

Gloomchen superkicks Hall & Oates through the Barber Shop window, thus completing her long-awaited heel turn. Look for her to sing her new evil entrance music at a karaoke bar near you, this fall.

Trevor talks terrorist cells, Weezer and P2P. He also spells “university” as “univercity” and “Mathan” as “Mathen”. No matter though, as he also covers 14 year old girls who send him their panties. Hmm, cotton briefs that say, “Boy Patrol”. Pass.

KDP speaks on big brother (no, not the TV show), market research and música paranoia. As a former marketing major, with a Bachelor’s Degree in said field, all I can say, Kyle is you can’t have “trust” without”¦that’s right”¦”us”. Give in”¦and give up your credit card.

Woo goes off on the same music criticisms that I can’t stand. Please, Warren, Don’t Hurt ‘Em. Can he make two columns in two weeks? We’ll find out later today. And, we’ll do it”¦together.

J.A.M. = the fourth in the line of short-lived novelty writing nicknames for a trio of Inside Pulse and 411 writers.

J is for Movie Joe Reid. He’s got his favorite indie movies of the mid-90s all locked n’ loaded for you. Next week’s timely list: His favorite left-handed set-up men of the Dallas Green era. Plus, thoughts from the Video Music Awards, Undeclared and other items that he begged for from his Amazon.com wishlist. Exploit those readers, Joe! Exploit! Exploit!

Also, be sure to check out Joe over at The Film Experience. Check out news on the reconciliation of Emilio Estevez and Demi Moore, along with thoughts on a gangbanging Elijah Wood and a near nude Mary Louise Parker. “Hi, Miss Parker!” I loved her in Friday.

A is for me.

M is TV Mathan. He loves him some Underdog, yet is indifferent to Underoos. He’s into National Geographic’s 9/11, yet thinks that 911 is a joke in yo’ town. And, I’m still not sure if Math wants to be on the cartoon C.O.P.S. or the Fox Cops.

Junk Mail

What’s up, AJC? Just wanted to say thanks for the email and checking up on me. I can’t believe you hunted down some sh*t I wrote to you two years ago, just because you remembered that I hated on you for the things you said about my hometown (New Orleans).

It’s been the most surreal experience of my entire life since Katrina came and went. I’m living in Jackson, MS right now, but my family and friends are still all in and around NO. Believe it or not, I’m working in insurance and I’ve had the chance to tour some of the areas in Mississippi.

This is just the most heartbreaking sh*t you’ll ever see. It hit the rich, the poor, blacks, whites”¦everyone. I couldn’t reach most of my family until (Wednesday) night and I’m going on four hours of sleep in the last four days. I’m blessed to know that most of my loved ones are safe and accounted for, but it tears me up to think that the world is coming away with the images that those of us from the NO are nothing but looters and shooters.

It’s easy to pass judgment, until everything is taken away from you and even hope is in short supply.

Anyway, Aaron, thanks again for the encouraging words. It’s gonna take a long ass time to get our town back in order, but we’ll get through this. I’m still checkin for you and Nick and the rest of the Bootleg whenever I can, so keep holdin’ it down out there, keep us laughin and keep us in your prayers.

-Carter J. James

Done, done and done, CJ. And, to everyone affected by this tragedy, me and Salemi send out our thoughts to you. Y’all will get through this, and then Nick and I are inviting ourselves to the celebratory “rebuilt barbecue”. Red Kool-Aid and hot sauce for all!

Have a safe Labor Day Weekend, kids. See you in two weeks. Get at me on AOL or Yahoo IM: ajcameron13!

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