Monthly Archives: November 2007

Free Reading…

Interesting articles/links…

World’s best bottom contest…

Ham flavored soda?…

From Abu Ghraib to Georgetown…

A killing in Siberia…

Bank intern busted by Facebook…

Searching for the Seven Missing Wonders…

Winningest stocks of the past decade…

Chocolate beer?…

A new secret society…

Is Dumbledore gay?…

Hilliam Clinton…

Grading the law firms…

A Google masseuse becomes a millionaire…

The dismal Wizards’ offense…

Rugby’s rugged appeal…

Minnesota has only one D1 team?…

A startling discovery…

Why lawyers aren’t worth dating…

For young tycoons, an indifference to money…

Family memoirs with a Nazi past…

M C Escher’s favorite building…

Winners and losers…

A medal for Ms. Lee…

A Man’s dating market value…

A Woman’s dating market value…

Clooney, Fabio get pushy…

Dell Dude now Tequila Dude…

Man’s best friend…

The story 0f Starbucks…

The next cartoon characters to come out of the closet…

Saved by the Bell goes Suupa Man…

Personality and Politics

Across the Great Divide: Investigating Links Between Personality and Politics

Patricia Cohen
NEW YORK TIMES

Folk music and a collection of feminist poetry may well be dead giveaways that there is a liberal in the house. But what about an ironing board or postage stamps or a calendar?

What seem to be ordinary, everyday objects to some people can carry a storehouse of information about the owner’s ideology, says a new wave of social scientists who are studying the subtle links between personality and politics.

Research into why someone leans left or right — a subject that stirred enormous interest in the aftermath of World War II before waning in the 1960s — has been revived in recent years, partly because of a shift in federal funds for politics and terrorism research, new technology like brain imaging and a sharper partisan divide in the nation’s political culture.

”I believe that recent developments in psychological research and the world of politics — including responses to 9/11, the Bush presidency, the Iraq War, polarizing Supreme Court nominations, Hurricane Katrina, and ongoing controversies over scientific and environmental policies — provide ample grounds for revisiting” the psychological basis of Americans’ opinions, party and voting patterns, John T. Jost, a psychologist at New York University, wrote in a recent issue of American Psychologist.

The newest work in the field, found in a growing number of papers, symposiums and college courses, touches on factors from genetics to home décor. Some people have greeted the results with fascination. Books by George Lakoff, a linguist and cognitive scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, who studies the psychological power of metaphors and the framing of issues, became required reading among Democrats after their defeat in the 2004 elections. Others have been decidedly less thrilled with studies they say portray conservatives as pinched and neurotic.

For anyone who assumes political choices rest on a rational analysis of issues and self-interest, the notion that preference for a candidate springs from the same source as the choice of a color scheme can be disturbing. But social psychologists assume that all beliefs, including political ones, partly arise from an individual’s deep psychological fears and needs: for stability, order and belonging, or for rebellion and novelty.

These needs and worries vary in degree, develop in childhood and probably have a temperamental and a genetic component, said Arie Kruglanski of the University of Maryland. A study of twins, for instance, has shown that a conservative or progressive orientation can be inherited, while a decades-long study has found that personality traits associated with liberalism or conservatism later in life show up in preschoolers.

No one is arguing that an embrace of universal national health care or tax cuts arises because of a chromosome or the unconscious residue from a schoolyard spat. What Mr. Jost and Mr. Kruglanski say is that years of research show that liberals and conservatives consistently match one of two personality types. Those who enjoy bending rules and embracing new experiences tend to turn left; those who value tradition and are more cautious about change tend to end up on the right.

What’s more, these traits are reflected in musical taste, hobbies and décor. Dana R. Carney, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University, who worked with Mr. Jost and Samuel D. Gosling of the University of Texas at Austin among others, found that the offices and bedrooms of conservatives tended to be neat and contain cleaning supplies, calendars, postage stamps and sports-related posters; conservatives also tended to favor country music and documentaries. Bold-colored, cluttered rooms with art supplies, lots of books, jazz CDs and travel documents tended to belong to liberals (providing sloppy Democrats with an excuse to refuse clean up on principle).

Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist at the University of Virginia, said he found this work intriguing but was more inclined to see a person’s moral framework as a source of difference between liberals and conservatives. Most liberals, he said, think about morality in terms of two categories: how someone’s welfare is affected, and whether it is fair. Conservatives, by contrast, broaden that definition to include loyalty, respect for authority, and purity or sanctity. Conservatives have a richer, more elaborate moral horizon than liberals, Mr. Haidt said, because there is a ”whole dimension to human experience best described as divinity or sacredness that conservatives are more attuned to.”

So how does he explain the red-blue divide? ”Areas with less mobility and less diversity generally have the more traditional,” broadened definition of morality, ”and therefore were more likely to vote for George W. Bush — and to tell pollsters that their reason was ‘moral values,’ ” he and his co-writer, Jesse Graham, say in a paper to be published this year by The Journal Social Justice Research.

2004-red-blue-map.jpg

Mr. Jost did his own research on the red-blue divide. Using the Internet he and his collaborators gave personality tests to hundreds of thousands of Americans. He found states with people who scored high on ”openness” were significantly more likely to have voted for the Democratic candidate in the past three elections, even after adjustments were made for income, ethnicity and population density. States that scored high on ”conscientiousness” went Republican in the past three elections.

Some of these psychological studies have been dogged by charges of bias however. In 2003 a mammoth survey of more than 50 years of research on the psychology of conservatism that Mr. Jost and Mr. Kruglanski undertook with the help of Jack Glaser and Frank Sulloway at Berkeley concluded that conservatives tend to be ”rigid,” ”close-minded” and ”fearful,” less tolerant of minorities and more tolerant of inequality. At the time the conservative columnist George F. Will ridiculed the results: ”The professors have ideas; the rest of us have emanations of our psychological needs and neuroses.”

The authors insist they are not making value judgments; whether a particular trait is positive or negative depends on circumstance. ”Fear of death has the highest correlation with being conservative,” Mr. Sulloway said. But he continued: ”What’s wrong with fearing death? If you don’t fear death, evolution eliminates you from the population.”

Accusations of bias against conservatives go way back, to Theodor Adorno and other scholars who, after World War II, came up with the ”authoritarian personality” to explain the link between the far right and fascist regimes.

As for the present research, John Zaller, a political scientist at Berkeley, said: ”I am personally embarrassed by some of the leading work by psychologists on personality and conservatism. I take the data to be valid, but I feel the manner of describing it too often sets up conservatives to look bad.”

Mr. Haidt, who agrees liberals and conservatives have distinct dispositions, still thinks bias is a problem: ”Our own biases as researchers — because we are almost all liberal — make it difficult for us to understand the psychology of conservatives.”

A slanted interpretation isn’t the only cause of skepticism. Definitions of liberal and conservative shift, critics say. How would you define a liberal or conservative in the former Soviet Union? And what about people who are conservative on economic policy but liberal on social issues?

What is important, said Larry Bartels, a political scientist at Princeton University, is howpsychological tendencies are translated into views about specific political issues: ”In 2000, George W. Bush ridiculed nation-building; now he seems pretty committed,” he wrote in an e-mail message. ”Which of those positions (if either) represents rigidity, resistance to change, or discipline? On the other hand, how many flexible, curious, open-to-experience liberals do you know who want to experiment with restructuring the Social Security system?”

Personality may have something to do with a particular political outlook, he said, but so do a lot of other things.

Eavesdropping…

 Overheard in NYC…

Cafeteria lady: So, you been good this weekend?
Frat boy: No! Me and my girlfriend got totally shit-faced!
Cafeteria lady: ‘My girlfriend and I.’
Frat boy: What?
Cafeteria lady: ‘My girlfriend and I got totally shit-faced.’
Frat boy: Whoa! You have a girlfriend?! Hardcore!

–NYU

Girl: Yeah, so me and Ronnie broke it off.
Guy: Really? Why?
Girl: Well, remember that girl, Nene? Yeah, she was like 14 or something, and he was fucking her.
Guy: And how old is he?
Girl: Twenty-one. You know what? I’m just done dating child molesters — been there, done that.

–R train, 57th St

Girl: I’ll have a dozen bagels.
Bagel guy: I can’t pass up on this opportunity. I have to tell you that you’re really cute.
Girl: [Blushes.]
Bagel guy: Do you know what the difference between cute and not cute is?
Girl: … Nooo, what?
Bagel guy: Three bagels. [Hands girl 15 bagels.]

–Jumbo Bagels, 57th & 2nd

Waiter: We do have a great selection of cocktails.
Customer: That just makes me feel queer.

–Max Brenner’s, 14th & Broadway

Customer: I need cigarettes.
Cashier, pleasantly: How would you like to kill yourself?
Customer, expressionless: Newports.
Cashier: Here you go.

–CVS, 25th & 6th

Girl: It’s not that I’m such a slut–
Guy, interrupting: –But I would be happy for you if you were.
Girl: You’d be happy for me if I were a slut?
Guy: Yes.
Girl: Me, too.

–27th & 3rd

Queer: So, I was on a date with this guy, Christian — like the religion — the other night, and we had a nice hug and kiss goodbye. Then he went down into the PATH train. Right after he left, my phone started ringing and it said Christian was calling, and I was like, ‘What? How’s he calling me?’ And then I realized it was Cristian, C-R-I-S-T-I-A-N, this other guy I hooked up with a few months ago. So I answered and we ended up hooking up again that night… So, I had two Christians in one night. If this were ancient Rome, I’d be the lion in the Colosseum.

-Posh bar

Middle-aged black lady: Those are some nice pants.
Latino dude: Yeah, I’m buying it for Jack’s* wedding tomorrow.
Middle-aged black lady: Didn’t he just get out of high school?
Latino dude: Well, he’s 22 now. He’s marrying his old Health teacher. She’s 28.
Middle-aged black lady: He… He was her student?
Latino dude: Yeah! The first day of class she kicked him out because he was being an asshole. He was like, ‘Suck this dick and lick these balls, biotch!’
Middle-aged black lady: Well, I guess she took his advice.
Latino dude: Yeah. Life’s funny like that…

–JCPenny

Middle-aged white lady: What are you trying to do? You are so rude! I can’t believe you! I am going to get you fired!
Clerk: [Silence.]
Middle-aged white lady, to entire line: Can you believe these people? They are so rude! I can’t believe they are trying to short me my coffee! It’s unbelievable!
Young black man: Stop being so white.
–Dunkin’ Donuts, Atlantic & 4th, Brooklyn

White guy, about pretty black chick passerby: Yo, why do black girls always look at you but not me?
Black guy: Same reason why you piss close to the urinal and I gotta stand a foot away.

–35th & 6th

Ghetto chick #1: When I have kids I’m going to beat them.
Ghetto chick #2: Yeah, my mama and daddy beat me, and it showed me right.
Ghetto chick #1: Me, too. I came out fine.
Ghetto chick #2: You know what happens when you don’t beat your kids? Columbine.

–Pace University, Spruce St

 Black woman to tanning salon flyer guy soliciting her: Nigga, you be blind!

–W 4th St & 6th Ave

Blonde: Don’t you think getting fucked by Harry Potter’s wand would be hot, because it’s like an extension of himself?
Butch girl: Oh my god, I’ve been thinking about wand-fucking for like six months!
–Bethune & Greenwich

Teen boy: Do you ever wonder, like, if you die, what will happen to your MySpace and your Internet stuff?
Teen girl: Yeah. You have my password, right? Promise me you’ll go on and approve the good comments?

-N train, Brooklyn

Skinny model girl #1: Why is that line to the bathroom so long when no one is on that other line? Is the bathroom out of order?
Skinny model girl #2: Oh… Well, this bathroom has a table… So it’s easier to do coke. But if you just have to pee, use the other one.
Skinny model girl #1: Oh, no, I’ll just wait, then. Thanks.

–LES

Smoker girl: We should do a wine power-hour tonight.
Friend: A wine power-hour is a bad idea. I lost my virginity after a wine power-ten minutes.
-83rd & 1st

Six-year-old girl, grabbing a Bud Light: Daddy, can I get this?
Four-year-old sister: Yeah, can I have one too, Daddy?
Dad: Not right now, but if you two are good, I’ll get you a keg later.
Mom: I’d be down for that.

–Penn Station

Student: I think social deviance is relative.
Professor: That’s a good theory. Explain it.
Student: Well, if you’re a New Yorker and a stranger goes up to you and says hi, you’d be like, ‘Why the hell are you talking to me?’ But if you’re from California, you’d be like, ‘Oh, hey, this stranger is saying hi to me!’
Professor: That’s because everyone in California is perpetually on crack.

–Sociology, Fordham University

Guidette to friend: Like, I’m a really good friend, y’know, because I like to listen to people. Like, so many people aren’t good friends because they don’t wanna listen, but I listen to people, y’know?
Friend: Really, it’s like–
Guidette, cutting her off: –I know, some people just don’t listen, but I’m such a good friend because I love listening, and I’m a good listener…

–Lexington Ave station

JTIII-JWall

A Coach and A Player
A Relationship That Began Four Years Ago in Harvest, Ala., Has Developed Into a Lasting Bond.


 

 File Photo:Andreas Jeninga/The Hoya

The Renaissance of Georgetown Basketball took place by a flat stretch of I-65 so far into northern Alabama you might as well call it Tennessee. There, in a drafty high school gym so tiny they didn’t bother to give it a name, was where the coach first saw the player. That is where the coach would first notice the player’s focused gaze — a look so familiar he could not forget it even when it should not have mattered anymore. That is where the 39-year-old man and the 18-year-old boy began a relationship that would take them to the pinnacle of college basketball and weave them so close with each other it would blur the line between coach and player.

Coach

When the coach walked into to the gymnasium at Sparkman High that winter night in 2004, he wanted the player to be a Tiger. The coach had liked what he’d seen from the smallish point guard on film, and the sharp-minded player was just the type he coveted for his Princeton program. Quite possibly the first Princeton man to ever visit the sleepy home of the Sparkman Senators, the coach kept a low profile. Low enough that it was not until after the game, when someone introduced the two, that the player realized the stranger in the black sweater sitting behind the cheerleaders in the gym’s far corner, away from everyone else, was the college coach who had been calling him.

Player

He didn’t even know who the coach was, past the fact that he had a famous dad and that the school he came from was far from Harvest. But when the coach started talking, the player realized his pitch was nothing like the ones he had been hearing from the recruiters at Murray State, Birmingham Southern and Samford. It seemed like this coach with the orange “P” on his hat didn’t have much to say at all, which made the player, who was himself quiet by nature, feel all the more at home. What the coach did say was honest — he believed in discipline, hard work and academics — the same things the player’s father had preached all along.

Coach

The coach went back home. But he couldn’t stop thinking about the way that player in the tiny gym carried himself. His demeanor. He was so focused. He had the same tunnel vision that blinded the coach when he stepped on the court. It was almost like he was watching himself out there.

A few months later, the phone rang. The coach answered it. Dream job on the line. Just like that, he was going back home, to where he had spent his childhood watching his father cut down nets and hoist championship trophies. Now that he was home at Georgetown — where Ewings and Mournings and Iversons came to play — he wouldn’t be needing that kid from the tiny gym anymore.

Or would he? He couldn’t stop thinking about him. The smooth shot, the court sense, his demeanor. Sure, he had only spoken with him for a minute. Sure, recruiting trips are mostly a shot in the dark. But the player had such character. He was the kind of kid you would build a program around.

Player

The phone rang. The player answered it. Dream school on the line. Georgetown? It was that coach’s voice again — quiet, understated, honest.

“You’ll never play if you come here, you know,” the coach said, according to the player’s accounts. “And I can’t offer you a scholarship right now.”

It didn’t matter. The player wanted to play for that coach — and that coach only. He made him feel comfortable, and besides, deep down, he knew he could play with anybody.

Coach

It was hard. Harder than it had been at Princeton. He had fared well in his first year, beat Pitt, made the NIT, done his best to make his dad proud — but he hadn’t made the NCAA tournament like he had the year before at Princeton. But that player, the one who he’d told would never play, the one with the heart of gold and — he was getting good. He was smart, calculating. He never took a bad shot. He almost always made the right decisions. Most of all, he kept quiet and let his actions speak volumes, the same way the coach had always tried to do.

Player

It was hard. But not as hard as he’d thought. Georgetown was different than Sparkman, but the coach, he helped him along. He seemed to know the perfect balance of when to look out for him, when to let him figure it out on his own. There was just something about the way the coach talked. It was different. Maybe because he was the only freshman that the coach had recruited. Maybe it was that the coach’s son, who watched each practice from the sideline, shared his same name. Maybe it was that he had always just felt right with him. And it was happening: He was playing, starting. He had had faith that it would happen eventually. But this fast? He felt the confidence in his three — so he dropped 20 points on Davidson. He could see what the St. John’s back court was going to do next — so he picked their pocket four times.

Coach

It was happening. His team was getting better. The athletic forward was growing into “the man.” The tall awkward center was looking more like Dikembe Mutombo than Manute Bol. But it was the player who came from nowhere that kept surprising him. Every game he made him feel better about putting him on the floor. He did not get scared against Duke. He refused to let a loss to West Virginia get him down. No matter how bright the lights shone, the player could not lose his cool. The coach marveled at how, in the conference tournament, the kid from the tiny gym looked perfectly at home in Madison Square Garden.

Player

It was happening. They were beating teams. Good teams. Teams like Duke and Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Programs he had never even dreamed of playing, or beating, when he sat listening to the salesmen from Samford and Southern. This was happening just like he knew it would from the time the coach sat in his living room and talked books and basketball with his father. They were advancing in the tournament. Knocking off the big guys just like the coach told them they would. No matter whom they faced, no matter what all-American was guarding him or what Hall of Fame coach tried to scheme against him, he felt the same calm that the coach had always shown to him. The loss to Florida was bitter, but they had come so close — the coach wouldn’t let that happen next year. Neither would he.

Coach

The shot left the player’s hand at the top of the key with 31 seconds left. It hung suspended in the air for a pause, then sliced through the net and lodged itself in North Carolina’s heart. The coach watched as the Tar Heels first panicked, then slowly accepted their fate with a look of somber disbelief at the wound the player had left gaping in them. He watched as the player — without batting an eye — led his teammates through a thrilling five-minute overtime. It was an eerie feeling, like he was almost playing in the game himself. This was it. This was what he had seen that north Alabama night in the tiny gym when he first saw the player. There was that calm, that confidence, that demeanor. He had trusted it back when the player was a raw freshman. He hadn’t lost faith in it when his team suffered crushing defeats to Old Dominion and Oregon early in the season. He had believed in it with his team down 14 to Carolina late in the second half. He had always had felt a trust in the player — and now it was taking him to the Final Four.

One

It is now nearly four years since John Thompson III first met Jon Wallace. But now it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins.

“With [Coach] being with Jon since day one, they have grown in this program together in the four years together. Coach really believes and trusts in Jon a lot,” Jessie Sapp says.

“He’s kind of like a baby Coach,” DaJuan Summers adds.

Sapp, Summers and the rest of Wallace’s teammates speak of how striking the similarities between the coach and player have become — their linear focus, their stoic manner, their demeanor.

“[Our relationship] is a special one, me and coach,” Wallace says. “I talk to him a lot of time in the position I am. I try and grasp what side of it he has and the structure he has in doing things and try to carry it over on to the floor. A lot of times you have to have that focus in mind just so I know I’m doing what he wants me to do and carrying it out onto the floor.”

When Thompson is asked about his team, he is usually quick in response. Summers needs to “make plays.” Roy Hibbert has “improved with time.” They all need to take it “one game at a time.”

But a question about Wallace is followed with a pause, as if Thompson is envisioning his point guard’s three against Carolina arcing through the air.

“Jon Wallace is, Jon Wallace is someone that I trust. I trust him with the game, I trust him with the ball in his hands, I trust Jon Wallace,” Thompson says. “I want people like him around me. That is much more important than the type of basketball player he is. It has turned out that because of the type of person he is, he’s turned into a damn good basketball player. I don’t believe there are too many guards in this country that are better than him.”

It is hard to imagine the second Georgetown Dynasty existing without Jon Wallace exacting John Thompson III’s battle plan. But next season, Thompson’s and Wallace’s time together will be through. Everyone with a drop of Hoya blue in their veins wants to see Wallace on the bench alongside Thompson. Thompson says that Wallace would make a great coach, but for now it appears Wallace may have something else in mind.

“I will miss that type of guidance, but he’s groomed me for a level beyond here,” Wallace says. “So all I can do is just take what he’s instilled in me as a player and as a person and just carry that with me.”

Years down the road, when John Thompson III is far from where he is now, after all the Chris Wrights and Austin Freemans and Greg Monroes, you get the feeling he won’t hesitate when asked who meant the most to him — or will he? After all, he always pauses when speaking of the player who helped him build it all.

“Jon Wallace is,” the coach says, pausing, still struggling for a word to describe what he sees in the player. “Jon Wallace is special. He is truly, truly special.”

Being Productive

Study Finds Working At Work Improves Productivity

WASHINGTON, DC—According to a groundbreaking new study by the Department of Labor, working—the physical act of engaging in a productive job-related activity—may greatly increase the amount of work accomplished during the workday, especially when compared with the more common practices of wasting time and not working.  An American worker can triple his work output by working.

American worker

An American worker can triple his work output by working.

“Our findings are astounding: By simply sitting down and doing work, employees can dramatically increase their output of goods and services,” said Deputy Undersecretary of Labor Charlotte Ponticelli, who authored the report. “In fact, ‘working’ may revolutionize the way people work.”

Perhaps even more shocking, the study reveals that not working significantly decreases worker productivity, sometimes even resulting in no work getting done at all. Similar findings were reported in the areas of avoiding work, putting off work, complaining about work instead of actually working, pretending to work, and fucking around.”

Fucking around is in fact detrimental to the work process,” the study reads in part.

To conduct the study, researchers split the staff of a Washington-based insurance company into two groups and assigned each group a series of tasks to be completed by the end of the day. The control group engaged in normal workplace activities, such as standing around and talking, staring vacantly at the computer screen, and surfing the Internet. The other group was instructed to do work and complete its given tasks. Incredibly, the group that did not do any work failed to get any work done, while the group that did do work finished all the work.

The researchers believe that these lessons could possibly be applied to fields outside the insurance industry.  Typical workplace activities, such as shooting the shit, turn out to be less productive than not wasting time.”

Based on the study, we can safely conclude that if an employee’s job is to process expense reports, doing a crossword puzzle will result in the successful completion of that task zero times out of 100, while processing expense reports will result in the successful completion of that task 100 times out of 100,” head researcher Richard Schoemberg said.

Jon Halper, a Baltimore-area small-business owner, claims that people used to laugh whenever he told them that the key to worker productivity was not checking friends’ MySpace pages for hours at a time, but rather working.

“After this study, I feel vindicated,” said Halper, who believes working is so important that for years he has required all his employees to work throughout the day. “Hopefully, more companies will embrace the idea that employees working on things that they are supposed to do is practically essential.”

A similar study conducted at Harvard University over a period of three years attempted to determine conclusively whether working was more productive than various different subsets of not working. The results showed across the board that working is 100 percent more productive than listening to music and checking e-mails, 100 percent more productive than meandering around the office socializing with coworkers, 100 percent more productive than playing online Sudoku, 100 percent more productive than watching YouTube videos of nostalgic childhood television programming, 100 percent more productive than reading celebrity-gossip blogs while chatting with friends on Instant Messenger, 100 percent more productive than napping, and 98.2 percent more productive than not showing up to work.

Despite the staggering new findings, many American workers say that they still do not feel comfortable working on the job.

“I love coming into work every day,” Arlington, VA sales manager Bryce Davidson said. “I get to have great conversations with Sandy, challenge myself with Yahoo! TextTwist, and still have time to set my fantasy-football roster. Why would I want to ruin work by working?”

American Gangster

americangangster_teaser1big.jpg

This weekend I watched American Gangster, the new Denzel Washington film about the life of former heroin king Frank Lucas. Russell Crowe is in the film as well, playing a cop who finally is able to discover the extent of Lucas’ operations and bring him (and many others) to justice.

The film itself was good, although at times it was trying to be more than it was (an epic it is not), and while introducing a score of characters whose lives were effected by Lucas, the movie really addresses them in a haphazard way throughout. The movie also should have ended earlier than it did, but oh well. Denzel does a great job as usually with the role, and much like George Jung’sBlow, we as an audience are given a interesting rise and fall of a drug dealer story.

What was most interesting to me was how Frank Lucas was portrayed in the movie. In many ways, he was a businessman on the wrong side of the law, but the film quickly establishes the law was on the wrong side of drugs as well, as he not only paid off cops, but some essentially extorted money form him as well. When he is ultimately captured, he is able to provide information to capture those that assisted him – leaving us with the impression he was a innovative man under dire conditions who did well for himself because he had to.

In reality, Frank Lucas was a violent man, who only identified since childhood with such a way of life. At the age of 12 he mugged men as they left brothels, and only left for NYC when he fooled around with a farmer’s daughter, laid him out with a piece of wood when discovered, then burned his house down. Another stark reality the movie glosses over was the effect of heroin on the Harlem community, although I am ready to admit that in his absence others merely would have thrived instead. But the drugs are one thing, the lifestyle is another. The movie points out that his cousin does not want to try out for the Yankees because he wants Frank’s lifestyle instead – many talented athletes became victim of heroin (see the Goat) or the image of success the dealers gave off.

Also, Frank never gave up his Army sources who helped him smuggles the drugs, which was convenient because that would have been a scandal that the government would not wanted to have dealt with. But maybe they never asked, knowing how extensive the operation may have been.

I tried to do a bit more research into Frank Lucas, and came up with some interesting reads. There is some interesting discussion on the film at Truth and Opinion, including some contributions by those who knew Frank Lucas.

Here are some excerpts:

Frank Lucas never used his gun like that and he never had a real crew like that. He was a country boy who was in Harlem. Yes, he had money but so did every other hustler during that time. But he wasn’t gangster like that and if he was he wouldn’t have been alive because no new york cat that was down during that time would’ve let that country boy come off gangster like that. All Frank was into was women and money and he abused them both. In every way! Just like any other stereotypical drug dealer. Please do not use the term innovative when you talk about Frank Lucas. He didn’t innovate anything. Just another common criminal who was a millionare amongst many doing the same thing back in those days. There were several millionaires on every block in halrem during those times. I am a brother and it hurts me to say this, but the real hustlers in harlem during those days were the Mafia. They are the ones who got rich. And Frank Lucas wasn’t even close, not even amongst the brothers.
Posted by: Banger on October 26th, 2007 at 9:18 pm

American Gangster” will draw a bigger box office in one day than Malcolm X did during its whole run. why? Because America prefers and is very comfortable seeing Black Folk in the role of drug dealer, pimp, hustler, ho, etc. And that my friends is the secret of the success of Gangster rap as well.
What is going on here? How have we allowed ourselves to be bamboozled like this? Frank Lucas is not an American Entreprenuer. He was just a drug dealer plain and simple who had enough darkness in is heart and enough disregard for the sanctity of life to assist in the conspiracy to destroy a community.

Posted by: Rashaan on October 28th, 2007 at 12:00 pm

I’ve read every single blog about FRANK LUCAS posted here. I personally knew Frank Lucas as well as Nicky Barnes and quite a few others. I, myself just got out of prison in 1998 because of the Frank Lucas incident.
Frank was indeed a true innovator! He was the first to go directly to the ’source’ of the herion(Bangkok and Saigon) and brought the drugs back in the coffins of our dead soldiers. He also “sold” to the mafia….instead of them selling to him. Frank would sell to the mafia families at 33% cheaper thatn they could get the drugs. The mafia resented him for this, but after over 15 attempts on Franks life, they relented, because Frank indeed had a army of over 600 gun toting men who were willing to kill on a whim for Frank (He paid extremely well). They would bomb, shoot and kill anyone and everyone including the Italian mobsters, the Irish mobsters, the Dutch mobsters as well as other black mobsters and kingpins.Frank was not bigger than the mafia, but was richer than any and I do mean…any mafia DON at that time. When money was stolen by police from Franks house…it was later determined that over 80 million dollars was taken…just from his house. Frank has killed…over 40 people that I know of from his own hands, but I doubt if he would ever admit to killing anyone. All of us know that no matter how long ago a murder happened, tht we can be tried for it. There is no ’stature of limitations’ on murder/homicide. I know tht at one time I was making $50,000. a week just for working for Frank and another guy was making over $100,000. who was working with me.It may not seem like a lot of money now…but in 1973, $50,000. a week made me feel rich. Remember..a loaf of bread was only 20 cents. Frank …even tho he told on the police…he is considered a snitch still. The code is to keep your mouth shut…period. He should have killed the police instead of snitching on them. He is very much alive…Frank is about 73 to 77 years old now. I haven’t talked with him directly, because I’m angry about his snitching and the killing of a friend way back then (I’m not forgiving)
Posted by: REAL DEAL on October 31st, 2007 at 4:56 pm

One thing I’m disappointed about is, they don’t talk about his relationship with Billie Mays (Willie Mays daughter). She was the most sought after woman in that time. He apparently stole her away from Walt “Clyde” Frazier. I’ve tried to find pictures of her but can’t seem to locate any. If anyone does please post the link.
Posted by: D-Nice on November 1st, 2007 at 12:55 pm

UPDATE: Here is another look at separating fact from fiction.

The film itself is based on an article written in New York Magazine several years ago…it’s definitely worth the read. (BTW, I love the fact how he remarks he hates ‘ghetto culture’ nowadays such as the Wu-Tang Clan, yet a member of the group is an actor in the movie).

Here is a more recent interview, where Frank and Nicky Barnes sit down for the first time since his arrest.

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Drag Race

At the Drag Race:

Two gay guys checking out the Drag Queens after the race:

Guy #1: “Who would want a photo with her?”
Guy #2: “Oh, I know.”
(Queen turns around)
Guy #1: “Oh, that’s why.”
Guy #2: “Nice ass.”

This past week before Halloween was the annual Drag Race along 17th St in Dupont, and since this event essentially runs right past my apartment, I had a chance once again to see all sorts of cool costumes, men who should never again attempt to pull off drag, and, yes, even Mayor Adrian Fenty.

Here are some photos I took…

Drag Race 2007

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