Saturday, August 21, 2010

Eminem at Yale; 2001 - 2002

Rapper Eminem Joins Yale Faculty

"Real Slim Shady" to Teach Beowulf, Chaucer

NEW HAVEN, CONN. - Yale president Dr. Richard Levin ended weeks of media speculation yesterday when he confirmed that rapper Eminem will teach at the prestigious university this fall.

According to Dr. Levin, the controversial Detroit-based vocalist will lecture in Anglo-Saxon and old English poetry, with a focus on Beowulf, a work that Levin described as "a popular Medieval epic."

"We’re very excited that Mr. Eminem is joining the Yale family," Levin stated at a press conference. "The faculty feel they just aren’t reaching the students these days, that we aren’t even speaking the same language any more. We finally decided that a culture change is required, and one day Mr. Eminem’s name came up. I warmed to the idea right away. Having a star of Mr. Eminem’s caliber on campus will prove to our young people that school’s still cool, if you will; that literature professors aren’t just a bunch of swinging dicks with our noses stuck in old books."

"Solid," commented an unnamed journalist. "Shit sounds like the bomb, Professor."

"Word," replied Levin. "Very much so."

When asked if he believed Eminem’s own assertion that he is the "real" Slim Shady, Dr. Levin hesitated. "Based on the facts I have, yes, I think he is. His look is brutal, his rhymes are bad as shit, and he rocks all the bitches, all the time." When pressed on the issue, Levin would only say that, "If there’s a truer Slim Shady in all of academia, I certainly haven’t met him."

Levin refused to comment extensively on Eminem’s recent legal troubles. The entertainer is alleged to have assaulted a man he believed was getting jiggy with his old lady.

In Levin’s words, "The only information I have about the incident is that which Mr. Eminem himself gave me." When asked to elaborate, Dr. Levin replied, "Well, he was all, 'I was pissed off! I really felt that I wanted to do that shit. At one point in time, I really wanted to do that shit. For real.'" Levin paused, then added, "And besides, as we all know, Money’s hookahs be his own damn bid’ness."

Eminem himself was not available for comment at press time. Roger Carlisle, legal counsel for the embattled superstar, issued the following statement: "Mr. Eminem looks forward to sharing his passion for Anglo-Saxon verse with the gifted young minds at Yale. He's amped. He’s into it. His shit is tight."

The university later released the following sample from Eminem’s fall lecture notes on Beowulf:

Book One: The Hall Heorot is Attacked by Grendel
His name is Grendel, that evil bitch
Switch cocked a hit to the Hall Heorot
Its not a Hall for him, that son of Cain
But, slain he did about thirty Danes.

Book Two: The Coming of Beowulf to Heorot
"Punk ass mofo cocked his fist to my boys,"
Spoke Hygelac to Beowulf (whom he employs)
[In a manner of speaking, it was Hygelac who sought revenge, and thus in turn hired his bravest soldier Of the Danish Army, Beowulf, and then, at his behest, Beowulf did set sail to Heorot.]

Book Three: The Feast at Heorot
Brothers be feastin’ like a herd of Nell Carters
In comes Unferth talkin’ bout the waters--
How our main nigga Wulf lost a snap to Brecca,
Heck yeah, but now Wulf’s betta, spit em out like feta,
Cheese, put you on your knees, beggin, "Oh please,
Go find Grendel."

Book Four: The Fight with Grendel
Pump, pump goes Wulfie, throw up your hands, stand, in the air
I got clout, gonna take you out, spout, your blood
Buck, buck you down, Grendel, down like Skylab:
Down like feathers, Lewinsky, and mad TAB.

Book Five: Celebration at Heorot
Sup, Sup for da killah, cold chowin’ wid his boys
Got Sigemund, not Freud, dragon couldn’t avoid
His sword, got Hrothgar there givin’ props to Beo,
"You gotta new Daddy now--I’m takin’ charge like Baio!"

Book Six: Grendel’s Mother Attacks
"I’m Grendel’s mother, yes I’m the real mutha
All those other Grendel’s muthas are just undercover
So won’t the real Grendel’s mother please stand up? Please stand up! Please stand up!"
This Grendel’s mother was a tough-ass ho
Like my main dudes from Hazard, Luke and Bo
Slice the Danes like Velveeta, thick and cheesy
She got Ginsu on the ass of the great man Aschere.

Book Seven: Beowulf Attacks Grendel’s Mother
Bitch be flipped like Wilson, like a flapjack on Sunday
Beowulf, his sword Hrunting
Go hunting, bitch punting
Drop momma to the mat like my boy Max Schmelling
But his trusty sword’s limp, like Philip K’s dick,
So he grabs another blade and runs it through her quick.

Book Eight: Further Celebration at Heorot
"Give props to Allah, Lord God Mighty,
He’s tidy, mighty fine, he’s guzzlin’ down Shasta
Through the portals of Time."

Book Nine: Beowulf Returns Home
Welcomed back to the hood
Like comin’ back from Desert Storm
All the hussies in the house be feelin’ up his form.
Spake the hero: "I cleaned house like Pledge, like Florence, like Hazel
I’m the quicker picker upper from the planet Fatal."

Book Ten: Beowulf and the Dragon
Dear Diary, Fifty years gone by and I’ve not a thing to complain about. Really, all has been quite fine. But what’s this. . .?

Book Eleven: Beowulf Attacks the Dragon
Fire-breathin’, scaly-demon, no-money lizard
Settin’ things ablaze like a cheap-ass Mr. Wizard
Wulfie grabs the mike, tips his cap to the ladies,
Starts talking smack to reptilian Slim Shady:
"Step back, man; ain’t got no Fate, man.
But when I grab the mike I rock a phat jam."
[The dragon, puzzled at the absence of both mike and ladies, continues along his path of wanton Destruction until Beowulf’s kinsman Wiglaf intervenes.]
"Yo yo yo, I’m krazy-ass Wiglaf,
Fightin’ dragons to the death, so you can just kiss off."
But Wulf’s fucked up, he’s wounded and bleeding;
Wig busts a cap into the ass of the seething.

Book Twelve: Beowulf’s Funeral
They torched Wulf’s body like it was Hester Prynn
Shipped him out to sea cuz he couldn’t swim.

And that be the end of brave Beowulf--huh!
Massive props to that nigga: he was full-on nutz.
Home > Eminem to Teach at Yale

Monday, August 16, 2010

Historical Relativism

Glenn Beck and Our 'Stolen' History
How is it that one set of people know for sure what it means to 'take America back'?

Over the past few months, I've tried to have fun pointing out the historical bumbling of public figures great and small. I have reminded Sen. Jim DeMint that the economies of western Europe boomed after World War II and did not decline "into economic stagnation," even though he thought they should have because of their embrace of socialism. I broke the news to Rand Paul, erstwhile messenger of today's tea party movement, that the original Boston Tea Party was ablaze with "criticism of business," and I took a look at the syllabus of errors being drawn up by the Texas State Board of Education.

Our heroes may be flunking history, but it's not because they don't care for the subject. It's because they love it so.

These days, people wear three-cornered hats to protest meetings and, according to an account in Sunday's Washington Post, try to enlist the support of the George Washington impersonator at Colonial Williamsburg for the tea party rebellion. Mr. DeMint's bestselling book, "Saving Freedom," includes in its pages both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Joseph Farah's "Tea Party Manifesto" does the same. "Glenn Beck's Common Sense," written by the Fox News personality himself, includes the text of Thomas Paine's 1776 pamphlet of the same name.

In one sense, our historical mania is nothing new. Americans have argued over the meaning of the American revolution since the day it ended. As Harvard historian Jill Lepore reminded me when I talked to her a few days ago, both Whigs and Jacksonians grabbed for the mantle of the Founders, as did Confederates and Unionists during the Civil War. So did the New Left in the 1960s. Claiming some special kinship with the revolutionary generation is simply what American political actors do. It is the oldest game in the book.

What distinguishes the current revival of interest in revolutionary times, according to Ms. Lepore, whose book about the tea party and history will be published this fall, is "historical fundamentalism." It's a way of understanding the past as "an incontrovertible argument. There is a narrowly defined past that is sacred to us as Americans." We have special historical documents, which "can be read as scripture. They come alive for us the way we need them to come alive. They cross time."

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Associated Press
T.V. host Glenn Beck

But to these fundamentalists comes the inevitable question: Why do so many others disagree with them? How is it that one set of people knows for sure what it means to "take America back" but another set keeps contradicting them?

Glenn Beck has the answer: It's because "our history is being stolen from us," as he announced on his program a month ago.

"Progressives have been changing history for about 100 years," the entertainer intoned, sitting next to a pile of textbooks. "They knew they had to separate us from our history to be able to separate us from our Constitution and God."

Besides, history is simply too important to be left to historians. For one thing, as Mr. Beck charged on another occasion, historians are biased: "See, what happened is, historians have been going back and trying to piece things together and bring in their own ideas instead of going back to the original sources, and that's really the problem."

But in Mr. Beck's monologues, I guess, no opinions ever intrude. He gives us the fundamentals. All is presented as we know it must have been.

And so we attend to Mr. Beck's nightly lectures, with his famous chalkboard standing by to lend scholarly gravitas. We sign up for what the entertainer calls Beck University, where learning is divided into three rubrics: Faith, Hope and Charity, each discipline assigned a particular founding father as avatar.

But between the history-mindedness of the right and that of the left-wing radicals they despise, writes Boston College historian John Summers in a recent issue of the New Republic, there is a curious kinship. "Everyone today wants their country back, by way of their own, 'alternative' history," Mr. Summers writes.

So too with the right's understanding of high-school textbooks as collections of radical lies, which is a sort of faith-based inversion of a longstanding left-wing complaint. "If you look at the textbooks," says James Loewen, author of "Lies My Teacher Told Me," an influential account of high school textbooks, "they basically portray an America that never did anything wrong, and if it did do anything wrong, it was an innocent mistake."

Our ideal image of the past obscures reality, and our desire to understand patriotism as an act of daring—subject to persecution, even—easily overwhelms the fact of anodyne, patriotic textbooks. We hold the most conventional views, but we imagine ourselves to be rebels for holding them. And so we sign up for a course in Faith, embracing this baseline rule of the new history: Wishing is what makes it so.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


In Laputa, according go Lemuel Gulliver, no person of importance listened or spoke without help of a "climatole" - or "flapper" in English translation, as such servant's duty was to flap the ears of his master with a bladder whenever, in the opinion of the servant, it was desirable for his master to speak or listen. Without the consent of the flapper it was impossible to converse with any Laputian of the master class
The flapper system was unknown on Mars. Martian Old Ones would have as little use for flappers as a snake has for shoes. Martians still corporate [in this life body] could have used flappers but did not; the concept ran contrary to their way of living.
A Martian needing a few minutes or years of contemplation simply took it; if a friend wished to speak with him, the friend would wait. With eternity to draw on there could be no reason for hurrying - "hurry" was not a concept in Martian. Speed, velocity, simultaneity, acceleration, and other abstractions of the pattern of eternity were part of Martian mathematics, but not of Martian emotion.
Contrariwise, the unceasing rush of human existence came not from mathematical necessities of time but from the frantic urgency implicit in human sexual bipolarity.

- Robert A. Heinlein, SINASL, (New York: Ace Books, 1961) 128-129.