Capital Citizen with Clinton Yates (Jan. 27)

Jan 27, 2014

Local columnist Clinton Yates takes your questions about politics, pop culture, people and whatever else you like from D.C.

Happy Monday, folks. It was a busy weekend that including both triumph and tragedy, unfortunately. Friday, I wrote a column about WPGC-FM's Sunni, who came to America from a refugee camp. You can read that here.

Then, of course, the situation in Columbia, Md., happened. So sad.

What do you think was the most underrated performance last night and why

I'm not sure that anything that happens at the Grammys is every really "underrated," it's the biggest stage in music. But I was really impressed with Kacey Musgraves. My colleague Chris Richards has been singing her praises for some time, but she's the real deal to me.

Those light up boots of hers were really fun, as was the set she performed on. For whatever reason, she seems to comes across as one of the more genuine artists in the game, which I like.

Does the fact that Macklemore cleaned up while K Dot was shut out completely undermine the credibility of the awards process?

For those of you who don't know. K Dot is Kendrick Lamar, a rapper from Los Angeles whose album "good kid, m.A.A.d city" was considered one of the more transcendent albums of this generation. 

I myself called it an "instant masterpiece."

But for me, the Grammys are not really about awards on merit. Back in 1993, Phife from A Tribe Called Quest said "I'll never let a statue tell me how nice I am," on the song "Award Tour." His point there being that accolades do not necessarily make the artist.

There's a whole lot going on with the relationship Macklemore has with America in terms of hip-hop. We'll get into this more later, but I'll say this: he doesn't bother me. As a black man, and a lifelong fan of hip-hop, his existence, popularity and success do not offend me or my sensibilities on any basic level.

Beyond that, though, I couldn't tell you anything about which rappers win Grammys. That's just not something I keep track of at all. It's a fun show to watch, for sure. But the awards, at the end of the day, don't matter to me as a fan of music.

What is your take on Macklemore and his apparent white guilt? More precisely, what is your opinion regarding his ''efforts'' to ''erase'' injustice in America?

This is a seriously loaded question that I don't want to misrepresent or understand in tone or intent. So I'll just take this at face value.

The reader is referring to Macklemore, who apparently sent a text message to Kendrick Lamar after winning best rap album last night, apologizing for the situation. Then he Instagrammed a photo of the message. Frankly, that's weird to me. If he really felt so bad about it, he could have simply refused the award, or you know, said something about it at the actual award show. 

Offering up a text apology after the fact is a lame move on many levels, race aside.

As for Macklemore, I don't get why the words "efforts" and "erase" are in quotes, here. I think his "efforts" are as well-appreciated as anyone else out here who understands that the way our society works does not necessarily benefit everyone the same ways, if all, therefore making the concept of "erasure" of injustice unlikely. There will never be a way to act like it isn't there. I think "reversal" is a more sensible and achievable goal.

With respect to the horrible tragedies that have been happening in the country (the many shootings in public places, boston marathon bombing, etc), do you feel there is a shift in culture that is reflected in these events, or do you feel that there is a stronger focus on events like this in the media?

Well, for one, people in the media are people too, in case that was unclear. Meaning, I am not heartless enough to believe that anyone wants to see more public tragedies for the sake of ratings or copy.

I presume this question is based on the fact that the shooting in Columbia, Md., happened Saturday.

I don't think that these types of things represent any large shift in anything. This is what normal. People in this country shoot and kill each other every single day. This is what our country is and has been for centuries. The focus on it is because people, IMO, are finally starting to realize that this violence is not some unavoidable byproduct of freedom. It's an absurd situation that is fueled by the fact that the gun lobby in this country has somehow bamboozled Americans into thinking that more guns means less people get shot. That makes no sense.

You tweeted that you went to the car show this weekend. What did you think?

I loved it! The Washington Auto Show is always a fun time, for me. It's one of the best people watching situations in the city, every year. 

As for the cars, I wasn't blown away. I saw a photo of a Volvo concept car that looked incredible, but that was about it. There's a new Audi 2-door that's pretty fly, too. 

My favorite part about car shows though, is always the old guys with their classic rides. I wish I had the time/patience/knowledge to be one of those guys that just fixes up old cars and drives them on the weekend, but alas, I don't. 

There's a whole row of Ford Mustangs from the 60s on the bottom floor that's definitely worth going to check out. Especially the hunter green one with the red trim on the tires.

So I got mad when I saw John Wall was left off the Olympic team summer squad, though there's still two years left. But ahead of him at PG are Chris Paul, Steph Curry, Damian Lillard and Kyrie Irving. So maybe we shouldn't be mad? Guy is super fast but still can't shoot regularly, hoping he will improve like Tony Parker. Thoughts?

I'm not so sure why Wizards fans are obsessed with the singular achievements of John Wall as a proxy for overall success.

I don't care if John Wall is never on the Olympic team, or the All-Star team, or anything. What I care about is wether or not the team can win any games for an extended stretch. Something that I'll point out has NEVER happened in Wall's career. 

Seriously, this team has not been over .500 one time in Wall's career. Not once. He seems like a nice kid, but i don't think it makes sense to think that he has to be the best or most accomplished player on the team for the Wizards to succeed. In fact, there's an argument that if your point guard is the best player on your squad, your squad likely isn't going to succeed in the NBA.

So is rock kinda dead? It seems like Dave Grohl is single-handedly trying to keep it alive, but I'm not sure he can. Metallica's performance was so out of place last night, Trent Reznor's stuff isn't the same, and I don't even want to get into what the old guys are up to. I mean Black Sabbath was just.... And that was basically it other than those dudes playing with Kendrick. Where does the genre go from here?

Rock is doing just fine, actually. But the lifestyle/mindset/approach of what rock bands used to be and how many people define themselves as a result is definitely different. 

I happen to think that "those dudes playing with Kendrick" are actually pretty good. They're called Imagine Dragons. My colleague David Malitz calls them "Nickelback for millenials," which is funny. 

But if you don't think that rock is the same, you're right. And it doesn't need to be. The days of brooding bros rocking arenas is kind of out of favor these days.

My favorite rock band of last year? The So So Glos. Check them out.

I've seen some discussion about Beyoncé's performance last night being on a similar level as Miley's VMA performance. Thoughts?

I actually find that outrageous and insulting. For one, there was absolutely nothing wrong with Miley's VMA performance, so equating the two as equally problematic presents an immediate issue for me.

But that aside, I know Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC said something to this effect today on "Morning Joe." I think the fact is that a lot of people in America are simply not ready to watch a married black couple dance on stage in a sexy manner. 

People look at that and see a problem, and don't even know why. Beyonce is beautiful. She's a singer. And she's married to Jay-Z, who also happens to be a performer. They did what they do to open the Grammys and as far as I'm concerned, it was fantastic. 

As a local high school soccer star yourself, how do you feel about the proposed DC United stadium that would make use of tax-payer funds to be built?

Ha, I was certainly no star. But as a forever fan of D.C. United, I'm a bit biased in this discussion, honestly. I'm a fan of the team, and want to see the stadium happen, so I personally have no problem with the city's plan.

But from a more objective standpoint, I certainly understand why the current plan doesn't make some people happy. A lot of people view a soccer stadium as a relatively niche interest investment, but I think that's shortsighted.

For one, if it goes where it's planned at Buzzard Point, I think that could spur a level of development there that if handled correctly, could be extremely advantageous for the city. 

Secondly, a soccer stadium that has a capacity of around 20,000 is more than just a place for MLS games to happen. It immediately becomes a very accessible outdoor venue for almost anything. Music, festivals, non-MLS sporting events, whatever. I'm all for it.

I'll also just add that my colleagues Mike DeBonis and Scott Clement wrote this story today, that states that 60% of polled residents oppose the DCU stadium plan.

That is a large number, if you ask me. Obviously, there are more pressing issues than adding sports venues, but by that logic we'd be spending our money differently on a whole lot of things that don't seem to be priorities at this point.

How would you describe the State of the Union?

I'd say the state of the union is fractured. Congress is a mess from a progress standpoint and the income gap in this nation is still harmfully wide.

I'm not sure I understand why presidents always feel the need to lie about this, but I think we'd all be better off if the people elected to lead were actually honest about the way things are going, as opposed to painting everything as good for self-serving purposes. 

I don't imagine we'll see anything different from President Obama tomorrow night. But the event is always a fun one on Twitter.

Okay, kiddos, that's all I've got for today. Thanks again for joining the cht and I hope everyone has a good week. Make sure you get outside and enjoy this nice weather. It's beautiful, comparatively.

In This Chat
Clinton Yates
Clinton Yates is a D.C. native and an online columnist. He was born at GWU hospital the week before Ronald Reagan ended up there for the wrong reasons. When he's not covering the city, pop culture or listening to music, he watches sports. A lot of them.
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