Ice-T and Honey Nut Cheerios

Can rap lyrics be admitted in court as evidence?

Ice-T Honey Nut CheeriosRecently, I bought a box of Honey Nut Cheerios; don’t judge. On the back is Coach Ice-T with the animated Coach Buzz Bee. “In honor of American Heart Month, Cheerios is making it easier and more fun to have a change of heart this February.”

From Business Wire: “‘This stuff doesn’t have to be hard,’ said Ice-T. ‘It can be as simple as a bowl of Cheerios and a walk around the block. That’s why I wanted to join Buzz to share some different ways to start to get your heart pumping regularly, and help make diet and exercise a happy part of your day.'”

It AMUSED me. I’m taken by the way that the rapper has been able to reinvent himself. I’ll admit my knowledge of his music is limited to some songs on the Just Say Yes compilation albums: Somebody Gotta Do It (Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy!), Hunted Child, Girl Tried to Kill Me, and with the band Body Count, the song Body Count.

Also, some verses of the title song of Quincy Jones’ Back on the Block album from 1989. It starts:
Ice-T, let me kick my credentials
A young player, bred in South Central
L.A., home of the body bag
You wanna die, wear the wrong color rag
I used to walk in stores and yell: “Lay down!”
You flinch an inch – AK spray down
But I was lucky cause I never caught the hard time
I was blessed with the skill to bust a dope rhyme

Big-time Sidebar

In December 2020 the highest court in Maryland “ruled that rap lyrics may be admitted in court as evidence of a defendant’s guilt. This blatantly racist decision is a travesty that sets a dangerous precedent.”

This is a position quite opposite of the appeal in New Jersey v. Skinner (2014). Per here: “Skinner’s rap lyrics were admitted at his trial for attempted murder and related charges. The defendant wrote the lyrics years before the shooting occurred. After hearing the lyrics, along with the other evidence against the defendant, the jury convicted him.

“An appellate court ruled that the lyrics were highly prejudicial and should not have been admitted; the State of New Jersey then appealed, but the state supreme court agreed that the verses never should have come into evidence…

“It seems that rap is being viewed as an especially telling form of expression, unlike the murder ballads of everyone from Dolly Parton to the Grateful Dead. For example, imagine the decidedly non-rapper Paul McCartney on trial for mayhem, being forced to listen to ‘Helter Skelter’ with the jury. Not likely—is that because he’s merely a singer, not a rapper?

“This distinction resonated with the New Jersey high court in the Skinner case, as the judge authoring the opinion quipped, ‘One would not presume that Bob Marley, who wrote the well-known song ‘I Shot the Sheriff,’ actually shot a sheriff….'”

Meanwhile, in 2021, New York lawmakers introduced a bill to limit rap lyrics as evidence in criminal trials.


Ice-T became an actor, appearing as a cop for the last 22 seasons of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. He’s a pitchman for everything from CarShield, which gets mixed reviews online, to Tide detergent.

So I think this is fine. The great American reinvention. It’s like Lady Gaga going from wearing meat dresses to dueting with Tony Bennett.

The NYS Bag Waste Reduction Law

reusable bags

bagAs I needed to go to the local CVS pharmacy and Price Chopper/Market 32 supermarket early on March 2, I brought my own canvas bags. I’ve been doing this long before the new NYS Bag Waste Reduction Law.

“As of March 1, 2020, [almost] all plastic carryout bags became banned from distribution by anyone required to collect New York State sales tax… Cities and counties are authorized to adopt a five-cent paper carry-out bag reduction fee…

“In areas that have adopted the five-cent paper carryout bag reduction fee, the fee does not apply to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children — a nutrition program) recipients…” There are exemptions involving produce and certain small stores, but you get the idea.

So I’m right behind some guy who has no reusable bags. In fact, he seems unaware of the new law. The store’s going to charge him a nickel for a paper bag. Strategically, he decides to pack his own bag, trying to get everything in one. Then he started ranting about how the big corporations are trying to “stick it to the little guy.” The cashier stoically said nothing.

Embracing the canvas

Luckily, I’ve been hoarding collecting reusable bags for a number of years. They tend to be available at almost every street fair (Larkfest and Pinkersterfest in ALB, e.g.) Also, they have been regular giveaways at work conferences. So, long before the law was passed, our household was ridiculously prepared. We’ve used reusable bags, or no bags, for years without legislative fiat.

Because our grocery stores have insisted on double-bagging almost EVERYTHING, we also have a few dozen plastic bags as well. Those will get used up eventually; you can use it different ways which you can view them here, they’re used as a garbage can or cat litter liner. Change is difficult, of course. Redeeming bottles and cans took a while for folks to get used to. And some still haven’t gotten there. Almost every time my wife goes for a walk around the neighborhood, she’s collected about a half a buck in returnables.

So I’m good with the new law. As someone said, “I’m usually good with a sin tax if it incentivizes me to adapt my behavior in a positive way.”

Movie review: RBG [Ruth Bader Ginsburg]

An unlikely recent obsession in our culture: an octogenarian Supreme Court justice

Watching RBG, a documentary about the Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the parallels among her being an aspiring law student at Harvard and Columbia, the cases she took on as attorney, and her role on SCOTUS are quite striking.

She tended to be dismissed out of hand at Harvard, with her and the handful of other students being asked directly why they were taking spots that could have gone to a man. Decades later, Virginia Military Institute was essentially making the same case, but the argument was met with withering criticism by RBG.

This is a wonderful film, helped by some amazing archival video showing the development of the great love story between Ruth and Marty Ginsberg, who were married from 1954 until his death in 2010. He was gregarious, while he was quiet, goofy when she was serious. Ruth is a notoriously awful cook, while Marty had kitchen talent.

Moreover, he recognized her great legal skills. Arthur Miller, their great friend, said that Marty was the greatest tax attorney in New York City, yet he left his job to follow his wife when she was appointed to the federal bench by Jimmy Carter.

During her confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court in 1993, she felt that many of the men on the Senate Judiciary Committee didn’t “get” it, didn’t understand the effect of being dismissed out of hand. Yet she was confirmed 96-3 after Bill Clinton recommended her, recognizing her stellar mind.

As she became more the liberal voice of dissent, social media dubbed her The Notorious RBG with a Tumblr page, pictures on Pinterest, T-shirts and a book describing the an unlikely recent obsession in our culture: an octogenarian Supreme Court justice.

Ruth has learned to embrace the phenomenon. She laughs at Kate McKinnon’s portrayal of her on Saturday Night Live while acknowledging that it is nothing like her.

Meanwhile, she is passing down wisdom to her grandchildren, including one granddaughter who was in a class of lawyers that’s about 50% female.

The film, which my wife and I saw at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany, is touching, and educational, and, based on my laughter at the latter sections, occasionally quite funny.

My parents, and my career choices

Did we HAVE scheduled meetings with guidance counselors?

les-trudyMy good friend Carol, who I’ve only known since kindergarten, has some follow-up questions about the Lydster’s career choices, which were really about My career choices.

Two questions based on this… why did you not go into law?

Because I did very poorly in a pre-law course at New Paltz. I loved the subject, but Bill Dunn didn’t love my answers. Or maybe it was because it was an 8 a.m. course and I was late sometimes. This failure threw me into a tizzy, because that was my intended life path, and then I had NO idea what I wanted to pursue.

Do you wish your parents had made more suggestions, not along the lines of pushing as much as of possibilities?

Not really, because it just wasn’t in their skill sets. My mother was not one to push us, because that was not her nature in much of anything. She was a “go along to get along” type.

She was very good with numbers and was a bookkeeper or teller for most of her adult life. But she didn’t really think of it as a skill much as, say, her husband arranging flowers or playing guitar or painting or doing all sorts of things. I dare say that he could be a bit intimidating.

For his part, my father, according to his military record, had only three years of high school. I think that part of the friction that I had with him was that I was not very good at working with my hands, the things he excelled in. But I was book smart – would you accept that analysis, Carol? – and he was not as adept, but figured things out as he went along. He was outwardly gregarious, and that wasn’t me.

We did have some areas in common: watching sports together, especially the minor league baseball Triplets and the NY football Giants; playing cards, particularly pinochle and bid whist; and most especially, thank goodness, music.

So he was not likely to offer me career advice because, and I say this without a lot of remorse, he wasn’t always understanding me very much at that time. He certainly didn’t grok what motivated me, and this became even more acutely true in my early twenties when we didn’t talk, at all, for nearly six months, before I relented. This is odd in some ways because my antiwar, and other, activism was molded in no small part by his civil rights activism.

I said two but here’s a third – do you think as I do that our HS counselors were useless?

I actually have no recollection of ANY HS guidance counseling whatsoever, except one passing conversation with Allan Cave, who was the assistant principal at the time, and that only because I knew him from church. Did we HAVE scheduled meetings with guidance counselors, because if we did, I never received the memo?

Just as an aside you wrote about a few math/science awards Lydia received but there’s no mention of any options related to those. Is she just not interested?

Actually, it has determined what level courses she has in 7th grade, and that could lead to courses she could take in 8th grade that could get her high school credit. So it puts her on a more rigorous academic track in several subjects than she might be otherwise.


September rambling #1: unfinished art

Busker lends a helping hand to people with cancer

Blessed are the poor
Instead of Dumbing Down

Meet the People Who Believe the Earth Is Flat

Flooding of Coast, Caused by Global Warming, Has Already Begun; Scientists’ warnings that the rise of the sea would eventually imperil the US coastline are no longer theoretical

How Trolls Are Ruining the Internet

The Falling Man

The FBI Accused Him of Terrorism; He Couldn’t Tie His Shoes

The Aurora shooting survivors’ $700,000 legal bill shows the difficult reality of one Colorado law

Risky alone, deadly together Overdosing on prescription drug combinations plays a part in the growing rates of premature death among white women

White people think racism is getting worse, against white people

White privilege has enormous implications for policy — but whites don’t think it exists

‘He paid a dear price for it’: The 19th-century ordeal of one of America’s first transgender men

JEWEL OF THE NILE and why Ken Levine will be forever haunted by it

Who is Funding the Backlash against John Oliver’s Charter School Critique?

‘Playing Joan Crawford ruined my career’: Faye Dunaway says Mommie Dearest changed the way Hollywood thought of her

Now I Know: The Pool Party That Wasn’t a Gas and A Token Effort

One in Four Americans Didn’t Read a Book Last Year, But don’t mourn the death of the printed word just yet

Introvert Hangovers Can Be Really Rough

Hugh O’Brian, Star of TV’s Wyatt Earp, Dies at 91

Actor Jon Polito, known for roles in Coen brother films ‘The Big Lebowski’ and ‘Miller’s Crossing,’ dead at 65

Trouble with Comics contributor Tim Durkee passed away

Woman in iconic WWII Times Square kiss photograph dies at 92

A little good news

Dozens of higher education institutions in New York state will stop asking applicants whether they have past criminal convictions

Jerry Lewis returns, at 90

Star Trek: The Making of The Next Generation’s Greatest Episode, ‘The Inner Light’ and When ST was banned in Albany and ST and Jaquandor

Gene Wilder on Willy Wonka Remake, Young Frankenstein, Mel Brooks, and more (2013)

Actress Bea Arthur leaves LGBT youth a generous gift in her will

Ken Levine’s favorite celebrity sighting

Dan Van Riper: We Walked The Entire Rail Trail From the South End of Albany all the way to Voorheesville

An exhibition celebrates unfinished art

Early comics reading and A Number 1 By Any Other Name, both featuring moi

Busker lends a helping hand to people with cancer (Roger Green, not me)

Alicia Abdul: My favorite part of the trip– the Library of Congress!

Library Gothic

The fifty-year odyssey of a born-again baseball fan

High school was hard, and no one showed it better than My So-Called Life

How Lace Is Made

Finding Dory As Told By Emoji

When He Turned Out the Light, He Was in Bed Before the Room Was Dark


Star Trek suites

Fred Hellerman, Last Living Member of Folk Group the Weavers, Dead at 89 – Folk icon also produced Arlo Guthrie’s ‘Alice’s Restaurant’

Tchaikovsky’s Symphonies No. 5 in E minor and No. 6 in B minor

Cover of Michael Jackson’s Bad by Jordan’s Project (Big Band; Soloist – Artur Katz)

K-Chuck Radio: The Vanda and Young Songbook

Four chords, no waiting

An Oral History of “We Built This City,” the Worst Song of All Time; or at least a real contender.

Beatles appropriation and ‘Eight Days a Week’ — The Beatles’ story in Ron Howard’s documentary

Rolling Stone: 100 Greatest Rolling Stones Songs

All 314 Bruce Springsteen Songs, Ranked From Worst to Best

Beach Boys: Mike Love’s Endless Summer of Love

Playbill Asked Over 70 Actors to Name Their Favorite Show Tune of All Time

The Price is Right losing horn

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