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Made it to the next round of the Boston Comedy Festival

Woohoo, Sunday was a very nice day. It started at 6:30am in NYC followed by a three hour drive with a friend to Boston, tea at Diesel Cafe in Davis Square, a massage and then my performance in the preliminary round of the Boston Comedy Festival. I'm not a big fan of contests that pit artists against one another, and deserving people always get screwed but it does feel good to get some validation, random as I know it can be. I move forward along with fellow Boston comic and friend Dan Sally plus NYC's Victor Varnado. Despite the general suckiness of the night's audience, several comics managed to pull them out of their funk including Ku and Tom McCaffrey who both had me rolling. You can read more coverage of the festival over at Bostonist, including coverage of my round. I'm doing at least three additional shows this week and have decided to camp out in the city I left just two months ago. Oct 10 @ 8pm Boston Comedy Fest: Urban Comedy Showcase Roxbury Center for Arts at Hibernian Hall (RCAHH) Oct 11 @ 830pm Boston Comedy Fest: Semifinal 1 Nick's Comedy Stop (Upstairs) See the comic lineup. I'm throwing down with some great people I respect. Oct 12 @8pm The Comedy Studio @ the Kong Check the festival website or my own site for show details.

Quoted in the Boston Phoenix

Mike Miliard at the Boston Phoenix recently wrote a piece about the practice of scam-baiting, wasting the time of those largely Nigerian Internet scammers who try to get your bank account info by telling you some relative had to flee the country and needs you to help get the funds. Even though Mike works for the competing paper to the Dig (carries my column), I spent some time on the phone with him. The main point of the story is similar to one written in the Atlantic recently: that the baiting tactics of those fighting the scammers (such as often have the feel of extreme humiliation and racism. Joe Keohane of Boston Magazine points out, "I'm of the mind that when someone tries to steal your life savings and you have no legal recourse to speak of, you’re well within your rights to humiliate them as badly as you see fit." I mostly agree with that. After all, I call myself a "vigilante pundit" so I can't be against all forms of vigilanteism. There are, however, some though I talked to Miliard about a bunch of other points, including:
  • the unavoidably racist appearance of a bunch of black people on a website, essentially branded with the techie version of the phrase "owned"
  • the perverse Robin Hood-ish justice that a poor African nation is redistributing a tiny piece of global wealth with scams like these
  • my admiration for the scam-baiters who tie the hands of scammers and keep them from hurting generous, if naive, people
  • and more ish

Baratunde feels the burn (Weekly Dig)

Originally published in Baratunde's bi-weekly GOODCRIMETHINK column in the July 18, 2007 edition of Boston's Weekly Dig I've lost a lot of weight. I know because everyone keeps telling me that I've lost a lot of weight. Then they ask, "What's your secret?" It wasn't part of any plan, and I'll share the "secret" without ganking a basic concept from a late 19th century religious movement, packaging it into a DVD/book/CD and charging $29.95. Ready? I no longer eat dinner at midnight, lunch is my biggest meal, and my primary form of local transportation is walking--20 to 30 miles per week. I get exercise, and I get to experience the city. I thought I'd bring you along with me on one of my regular routes from my apartment in Union Square, Somerville to the Mass General Hospital area. Transformers, roll out! Our journey begins, as any real Boston journey should, at a Dunkin' Donuts. This one is at Prospect Street and Somerville Ave. I'll never be a real New Englander because I hate most things about Dunkin' Donuts. The donuts suck, and the "coffee" is just liquified sugar. There are a few redeeming qualities in this particular location, however. First, it's open 24 hours and serves as the second bathroom for my apartment. Second, it's open 24 hours and serves as a satellite police station for my apartment. Now, head east on Somerville Ave, passing two of the six auto repair shops that dot my route. I'm sure these businesses will be replaced with luxury condos when the Green Line gets extended to Union next century. This building on our right with the perpetual soccer match on the screen is the Demosthenes Democratic Club. As far as I can tell, it's where Greek men go to avoid saying hi to me. As we approach a right turn onto Medford Street, you'll see Target on the right. Living near a Target used to excite me. Then I found out Target allows its pharmacists to refuse to fill women's contraceptive prescriptions. They haven't gotten a dollar from me since, but I have considered donating unwanted babies. Pass under the commuter rail overpass, and pause at Medford & Ward Streets, home of La Hacienda. A British taxi driver told me this place had the best pizza in the area. He was right. I recommend the four-cheese white pizza. After a few more auto body shops and the hideous Twin City Plaza strip mall, Medford St. becomes Gore St. on the Cambridge side. There's another Dunkin' Donuts at Third St., this one protected by Cambridge's Finest. Keep walking straight, right through the Lechmere T stop onto McGrath Highway and alongside the Museum of Science. Be sure to yell "quack quack" as loud as possible at the Duck Tours. The drivers love when you do that. Ahead and across Storrow Drive you can see the Charles River Park Apartment towers, the "If you lived here, you'd be home by now" people. What they don't tell you is that if you lived there, you'd also be broke by now. A one bedroom can set you back over $2,000 a month. The downside of all this walking is the oppressive summer heat, but on hot days like these, it's nice to know I can pop in to the State Police Department at Storrow amd McGrath and walk out with a refreshing Coolata. BARATUNDE THURSTON IS A COMEDIAN AND AUTHOR LIVING IN SOMERVILLE. HIS COLUMN RUNS BIWEEKLY IN THE DIG. WALK YOUR INTERNETS TO BARATUNDE.COM, AND THEN SWEAT ALL OVER

PTKC - Proud to Know Clarence

A week ago I got an email from a brother named Clarence. We had some mutual friend in common, and Clarence reached out to say wasup. After stalking his online presence via his blog/podcast, twitter and Flickr, we made it happen with a three hour brunch yesterday in Inman Square. Trust me, I don't do three hour brunches with just anybody. He had some valuable insights on my article-in-progress about why black people leave Boston, but we also talked Nintendo Wii, conferences (he really needs to be at SXSWi next year), the end of oil (my new hot topic), his comic book fetish, what he does in Second Life and why Eric Rice, aka, spin is on some serious next level ish. Later in the day I mentioned him to friend who knew we were doing the brunch thing. She'd forgotten his name but asked, "is that the cool, artistic, black man you met today?" Indeed. Listen to his short, infinitely listenable podcasts in the player below: style="width:220px; height:160px;" id="FeedPlayerAudioSlim" align="middle" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" src="" quality="best" bgcolor="#ffffff" scale="noScale" wmode="window" salign="TL" FlashVars="initialview=menu&autoplay=no&standalone=no&share=yes&repeat=no"> Put my show and this player on your website or your social network.

[NP] A Harvard Square Weekend

For the past four weekends, I have been doing gigs everywhere but home: New York, DC, Iowa/Chicago and NYC/New Jersey. My plants are filing a wrongful neglect lawsuit against me, and black folks in Boston think I just moved in.

All that changes this weekend because I'm home.

I'll be performing tonight (Fri) and tomorrow at


The Comedy Studio

1238 Mass Ave (3rd floor of the Kong)


showtime at 8pm both nights. reserve tix

I'm writing a feature length article for the Weekly Dig


Subject: Why Do Black People Leave Boston?

Most of my black friends are amazed that I still live here, eight years after graduating college. Many think I'm the only black person in town. Others fear the racism. If you have thoughts on why black people don't seem to consider Boston a place worth settling, hit me up with thoughts or let's set up an interview. If you think the premise is just wrong, let me know that too.

I've spoken with black business owners, lawyers, college students and more. I'm looking for as many perspectives as possible and want this article to be tight. If there's someone I need to get at, please tell me now.

Email me: baratunde @ baratunde . com

Call: 646-633-4206

Or just reply to this message.

In other news


Looking for book recommendations, check out my custom Amazon Store

Photo of Jerry Bruckheimer's real plan for The Transformers

An explanation of why I use the new web service, Twitter

Why I can't stand George Tenet, and what I learned at Princeton

That's all for now. Thanks for reading.


comedian, author & vigilante pundit

a/k/a "baratunde" on myspace, facebook, skype, twitter and more

brought to you by Kingly Companion Media, LLC

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Gov. Patrick to Feds: Take your abstinence-only education...

... and shove it up your ass since that's what those abstinence-only kids are doing along with everything else short of vaginal intercourse. From today's Boston Globe:
Governor Deval Patrick wants to end state-sponsored , abstinence-only sex education in Massachusetts, a year after Governor Mitt Romney ordered the Department of Public Health to redirect a long-standing federal abstinence grant to classes that focus exclusively on encouraging teenagers to avoid sexual encounters. Patrick proposed forgoing the $700,000 grant, which the state has received since 1998, joining at least six other states in rebelling against increasingly restrictive federal mandates about how the money can be used. The Patrick administration points to the federal government's study of abstinence-education programs, released this month, which found that students in programs focusing solely on abstinence are just as likely to have sex as those not in such programs. At the same time, health officials say, the programs' emphasis on the failure rate of condoms and other birth control, without providing instruction about their benefits, may confuse young people and discourage them from using protection. "We don't believe that the science of public health is pointing in the direction of very specific and narrowly defined behavioral approaches like the one that is mandated by this funding," said John Auerbach, the state commissioner of public health.

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Other views on the Mooninite Invasion

from some people I respect. Comedian Tim McIntire thinks the buzz marketing is to blame and Turner should pay for the law enforcement fees. I disagree, and we go at it in his comment section. Update: I've pasted an excerpt of my comments below the fabulous video below The Zebro kids put together a video. Because their response had clearly a lot more effort than Tim's, I vote them the winners of the debate whose side I already declared a winner: mine

Me on Tim's site:
I see yesterday's snafu as solely an overreaction to terr threats. The city and media did not have to react in the way they did. As was mentioned, this campaign happened in 10 other cities with not a hint of panic or paranoia. I can't believe that Boston got something right that 10 other major metros missed. I blame boston and I blame a system of "homeland security" which has to justify its existence (and budget) by overreacting to any and all "threats." I mean they blew up LED signs. The news referred to these as "devices" and "packages" just to justify their existence (and budget). In this case, the anti-terror INDUSTRY is at fault way more than buzz marketing which happens all the damn time. When Menino invokes 9/11, he is doing his own buzz marketing for the military industrial complex. As if all overreaches of state power and aggression are issued a waiver by the memory of ONE act of violence? All the bloviating and lawsuit-threatening are weak attempts to pardon a mistaken response to an absolute non-threat. The fact that the backers of the campaign were cable network folks doesn't mean anything to me in THIS case. *I* could have an idea to promote some psychic waves in the populace by placing signs around the city. that's not a terror threat. it may be a public nuisance, but the overreaction by the state, to me, is the real offense in yesterday's story.

[NP] New Column. New Book. And an endorsement

Photo by Thomas Hawk via Flickr

BIG writing announcements today, folks.

1. I am now a bi-monthly (that's twice a month) columnist for Boston's Weekly Dig!!

And you all have earned a treat. Back in November, I wrote about a nasty experience I had with the MBTA and a bus driver. Then I pulled it down while I went through some "legal" steps. Ultimately there was no major outcome, except for this new and improved retelling...

How I Almost Got a T Stop Named After Me

2. I've just released my third book! Yes, THIRD.

One year ago, I released the "MoJo Quarterly" best of 2005, and it was downloaded over 2,500 times. The idea was to release a book every three months. The idea was stupid. Annual is better. The title of the new "MoJo Journal" is.... (drumroll)

Thank You Congressional Pages!! (for being so damn sexy!)

This is a best of 2006 writing, MoJos and now photos. Free to download. $1 for a hardcopy.

Other matters.


These are two brothers from Boston who are ridiculously hilarious. They are leaving Boston and moving on to big badass things in the entertainment industry out in Los Angeles. Before they go, here are some east coast shows:

Feb 3, NYC at the UCB Theatre
Feb 9th and 16th weekends at Jimmy Tingle's Theatre in Boston

Seriously, check them out while you can. These dudes are so original and so funny. See them while you can afford the tickets! Really. This is an official Baratunde endorsement, which I bestow rarely

That's all

Screening of Hip Hop / politics film in Boston this week

FYI, Campus Progress and the National Black Programming Consortium are having a screening and reception this Thursday in Cambridge, Mass.

The film: Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats & Rhymes

The guests: Byron Hurt, director and Chuck D of Public Enemy

November 09, 2006
From: 06:00 PM until 11:30 PM

OM Restaurant & Lounge
92 Wintrop Street
Harvard Square
Cambridge, MA

Note: you must be 21+