Vibe Magazine Shuts Down



Vibe Magazine Shuts Down

By Houston Williams

VibeMagzine-ChrisBrown-225VIBE magazine has shut down.

The magazine was launched in 1993 by music industry legend Quincy Jones and it served as as widely revered urban magazine.

Several sources verified the closing and a message on twitter also indicated the closure. The magazine said, “Thanks for everything.”

A statement is expected to be released by the end of the business on Tuesday.

In the 90’s, VIBE experienced meteoric success as a business and an outlet for urban journalism. It has ailed under the ownership of private equity firm Wicks Group of Companies, AOL reported.

The magazine had seen a dramatic reduction in ad pages and circulation. Earlier this year, employees were put on a four-day workweek and other cuts were made such as scaling back to 10 issues per year.

There is speculation that the magazine will transform into an online-only entity.

Calls for comment were not immediately returned.


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White Cop Calls Oscar Grant a ‘Bitch Ass Nigger’ -Moments Before He was Shot



Oscargrantgreen-225(06-28) 17:20 PDT — Overlooked in the court hearing that ended in former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle being ordered tried for murder in the slaying of Oscar Grant was testimony about another officer’s explosive outburst just 30 seconds before Grant was shot.

One of the videos made by riders at the Fruitvale Station in Oakland early New Year’s Day caught Officer Tony Pirone standing over the prone Grant and yelling, “Bitch-ass n-.”

Pirone and his attorney say he was parroting an epithet that Grant first hurled at him – though Grant’s voice is not audible on the tape.

The sound-enhanced tape shows Pirone delivering a shoulder chop to Grant and bringing him to the ground. Pirone can be heard saying twice, “Bitch-ass n-, right?”

Prosecutors showed the tape in court on the last day of Mehserle’s preliminary hearing, but the headlines went to the judge’s decree hours later that there was enough evidence to send Mehserle to trial for murder.

Under questioning from Mehserle’s attorney Michael Rains, Pirone insisted it was Grant who had first “called me a bitch-ass n-.”

Asked if he had repeated the slur to Grant, Pirone testified: “I don’t remember, but it very well may have happened.”

“Is that something you would have initiated on your own, calling him names?” Rains asked.

“No, I don’t talk like that,” Pirone said.

Oakland attorney John Burris, who is representing Grant’s family in a lawsuit against BART, called Pirone’s words “shocking and disturbing.”

“Pirone was out of control,” Burris said, “assaulting Oscar Grant and taunting him with racial slurs, and none of the other officers seemed to put him in check.”

Pirone’s attorney, William Rapoport, dismissed Burris’ assertion – reiterating that Pirone, who is white, was simply reacting in surprise to being called the “N” word himself.

Mehserle, who is white, was not accused by prosecutors or Grant’s family of a racial motive in the shooting of Grant, a 22-year-old African American whom BART officers pulled off a train after receiving reports of an onboard fight.

A spokesman for the state Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training in Sacramento declined to weigh in on whether Pirone’s comments would be cause for discipline or even firing, citing an internal BART probe of the shooting.

Peter Keane, a Golden Gate University law professor and former San Francisco police commissioner, said that determining whether Pirone’s comments were grounds for discipline depends on whether he was intending to use a racial epithet or just echoing Grant in a “sense of incredulity.”

But without Grant’s voice on the tape, Keane said, “the burden of proof moves heavily to Pirone.”

The race is on: State Attorney General Jerry Brown bests San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom by 20 points in a new, two-way poll for next year’s Democratic gubernatorial contest.

The poll by JMM Research of 525 Democratic and decline-to-state voters is the first snapshot since Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced last week that he wasn’t running.

With Villaraigosa in the lineup, the numbers read:

— Brown, 33 percent.

— Newsom, 20 percent.

— Villaraigosa, 17 percent.

Take the L.A. mayor out, and it’s:

— Brown, 46 percent.

— Newsom, 26 percent.

Brown does best with the voters over 40, who tend to turn out in bigger numbers on election day. Newsom thrives with the younger crowd, which he hopes to turn out big time, a la Barack Obama.

 Geographically, Brown beats Newsom everywhere but the Bay Area.

Whichever candidate they support, the one thing Democrats overwhelmingly agree on is the sad state of the state, with 73 percent saying California is headed in the wrong direction.

Budget bingo: Publicly, San Francisco’s budget battle is being pitched as a fight with Mayor Gavin Newsom, cops and firefighters on one side, and the Board of Supervisors and advocates of social programs on the other.

But behind the scenes, the fight is also between two major labor groups: the Service Employees International Union, which represents most of the city’s health and social workers, and the police and fire unions.

Service worker unions have helped elect a number of the supervisors. The police and firefighter unions are big backers of the mayor, and opposed many of the supervisors.

The first round went to the service workers when the supervisors voted to cut $82.9 million from the police, fire and sheriff’s departments and use it for health and social services.

But now, it’s dawning on everyone that the city will probably need even more money to keep everyone happy, which means going to the ballot in November with some kind of tax hike. And any kind of tax hike is going to need police and firefighter support to pass.

Which may explain why the service and firefighters unions have been meeting on the QT in the hopes of working out a compromise.

And if they do – City Hall will follow.

Banmiller bows: After taking a good, hard look at the numbers, business newscaster Brian Banmiller has decided to stay out of the race to replace outgoing East Bay Democratic Rep. Ellen Tauscher.

 “They weren’t kidding around when they redistricted the 10th,” the Republican said of the district, which includes portions of Solano and Contra Costa counties. “They said they were going to make it safe for Democrats, and it is.”

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Chronicle columnists Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross appear Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays. Phil can be seen on the KPIX morning and evening news. He can also be heard on KCBS radio Monday through Friday at 7:50 a.m. and 5:50 p.m. Got a tip? Call (415) 777-8815, or e-mail


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Beneath Low: BET, Lil Wayne Set the Stage for Child Pornography



Beneath Low: BET, Lil Wayne Set the Stage for Child Pornography

By April R. Silver, June 29, 2009 

AprilSilverLast night, live at the BET Awards in Los Angeles, a room full of head-bobbing, consenting adults bounced to Drake and Lil Wayne’s back-to-back performances of the hit songs “Best I Ever Had” and “Every Girl.” I watched, underwhelmed. I wanted more “Michael” in what was supposed to be this award-show-turned-Michael-Jackson-tribute. I watched, ever puzzled by the Lil Wayne phenomena that has captivated the music industry. I watched, wondering when the set was going to end. 

Then the little girls came onstage…literally the little girls. “Are those children?” I asked out loud, in disbelief. Then the camera panned the audience. Everyone was still head-bobbing as the little Black girls huddled around these superstars. 

“Are those little girls on stage…for this song?!?!” I, still in disbelief, lost breath and forced myself to exhale. “Why are these little girls featured on this performance? Is somebody going to stop this?” Again, the show was live, though for a nano-second, I was hoping that a hunched-over stage manager would bust through from back stage to scoop up the children, rescuing them from harm’s way…from being associated from this song. But instead, what those girls witnessed from the stage was hundreds and hundreds of adults (mostly Black people) staring back at them, co-signing the performance. These girls, who all appeared to be pre-teens, were having their 15 minutes of glam on one of the biggest nights in televised Black entertainment history, with two of pop culture’s biggest stars at the moment, with millions of people watching. They must have been bubbling with girlish excitement, shimmering like princesses all night. Pure irony: one of them wore a red ballerina tutu for the special occasion. And we applauded them. 


I’m told that one of the girls is Lil Wayne’s daughter. That doesn’t matter. In fact that makes it worse. Last night we were reminded that there are few safe spaces for our little girls to be children; that some of us are willing to trade their innocence for a good head nod. BET and Lil Wayne are beneath low because, in effect, they have given premium assurance to these and other little girls that their best value, their shining moment, their gifts to display to the world, all lie within a context that says they are fuckable. 

I’m also told by industry insiders that Lil Wayne was continuously sexually molested as a child, remains in a psychologically abusive relationship with the molester, and for that reason his understanding of what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate for children is terribly skewed. I don’t know if that is true. If it is, help is needed. If it is true, it might explain something regarding Lil Wayne’s compliance in this offense. But what about BET’s nickel in this dime? 

BET President and CEO Debra Lee has come underfire over the years yet many see the network as one hell bent on showing the worse pathologies of Black people

BET President and CEO Debra Lee has come underfire over the years yet many see the network as one hell bent on showing the worse pathologies of Black people

The programming at BET has been heavily criticized by artists, concerned citizens, college students, parent groups, social justice organizations, media reform activists, and many others for over a decade now. Their programming seems hell bent on broadcasting the worst pathologies in the Black community. Some have joined the anti-BET movement by simply tuning out. Others have been more pro-active. National letter-writing campaigns and other activities designed to shame and/or pressure the network into improving its programming have been in play for some time now. Boycotts have been called as well. Two years ago, for example, the network found itself in the line of fire as it planned to air the very controversial series “Hot Ghetto Mess.” Advertisers, such as State Farm Insurance and Home Depot, responded to pressure and requested that their ads be disassociated with the series (though, their ads could be placed in other programming slots). None of this has made a difference. In fact, it seems to have emboldened the network, for it is now expanding. In the fall, BET is due to launch another channel.


But millions of Black people are not offended by the network and welcome anything BET has to offer, no matter how much it continues to unravel the fabric of our community. Imagine, if you will, BET as a human being and the viewers as the community. You would have to imagine BET as a drug dealer, with his swag on…perhaps outside standing atop a truck, the community crowded beneath him. Imagine him throwing nicely wrapped gifts into the crowed, or giving away turkeys at Thanksgiving. Or maybe it’s Mother’s Day and he buys dinner and teddy bears to all the single moms and grandmothers around the way. Despite his best efforts and despite the approval of his fans, he is still a drug dealer, pimping death to the masses. 

Proverbs is full of sacred text that teaches us that there will always be fools amongst us. Some of them will be highly paid, protected, and given world-wide platforms to show off what they do best. And these fools (be they performers, corporate executives, or others), will have fans and loyal supporters, and a place to call home, like a BET. 

But as long as there will be fools amongst us, there will also be wise ones – a small group of people concerned about the long term health and well being of the community. This small group will often go unheard and they will be outmatched. They will struggle over which problem to address first: the child pornographer, the batterer, the pimp, the prostitute, the thief, the slumlord, or the system that enables it all. They will get tired and their defense will pale in comparison to the almost crushing offense. And they will be betrayed from within. Historically and universally, this is what happens in the struggle for what is right. But eventually, with continued pressure, something will shift. A radical new thinking will emerge, and the fools will lose their stronghold.  

The sure expectation of victory, however, can not be understated. It is a concrete ingredient in the struggle against the death that is being paraded in our community…as necessary as letter writing campaigns, economic boycotts, symbolic and actual protests, and other pressure-oriented activities. It is indeed possible to bring more life into our community.

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As a social entrepreneur and activist, my entire life/work has been dedicated to standing up for what’s right, especially within the culture of hip hop. When identifying what cancerous elements exist within the Black community, many fellow activists agree with Chuck D (of Public Enemy), and even Aaron McGruder (of The Boondocks), when they targeted BET as one of those elements. That said, I didn’t think that we would ever have to take the network to task for what amounts to child pornography. 

Lil Wayne shocked many with his performance at the BET Awards when he allowed little girls to come on stage

Lil Wayne shocked many with his performance at the BET Awards when he allowed little girls to come on stage

But did no one care that Lil Wayne’s song Every Girl is about grown men and their sexual escapades with women? Did the meaning and intent of the song matter to anyone, this song whose hook and other lyrics required a re-write in order to get air play? “I wish I could love every girl in the world.” That’s the radio-friendly version of “I wish I could f–k every girl in the world.” But Lil Wayne’s BET performance was the clean edit of the song. Perhaps he (and the show producers) thought that there was nothing wrong in featuring the children in the clean version. Perhaps we were supposed to see the whole bit as cute and innocent. Absolutely not. There’s no other way to cut it: in presenting little girls in a performance of a song that is about sex, group sex, and more sex, BET and Lil Wayne set the stage for child pornography. It doesn’t matter what version of the song was played, much like a man who batters women is still an abusive man, even if uses flowery phrases while battering.In the song, Lil Wayne mentions superstar Miley Cyrus, but Cyrus gets a pass on this lyrical sex escapade because, as he acknowledges, she is a minor. Huh? Why, then, is he comfortable with featuring four minors, these four little Black girls, in the show? How deep exactly is this inability of some men to respect women, and how deep is Lil Wayne’s disregard for the safety of little girls?