Like many teens, I referred to my hometown, Newport News, Virginia, as "the armpit of a America." I was surprised one time, when I said this to a jewelry artist, and he responded, "Nah, man, DeKalb, Illinois is the REAL armpit of America!" Surprised why? Because that town is my birthplace!
So I declared myself the armpit queen.
But all that, it turns out, is nothing. Fellow Newport-Newsian Jarrett reports that our hometown paper, sadly NOT the Newport News News but the Daily Press, reports that Newport News has been dissed again:
The Newport News Chamber of Commerce won't be hiring 50 Cent as a celebrity spokesman anytime soon.
"Ski Mask Way," a new song from the New York City rapper, includes some profanity-laced lines about Newport News, or as he calls it, Bad News.
"I'm trying to stay out them pens, so I switched states. Bad News, VA, now that sounds great," 50 Cent raps on the tune. "Ski Mask Way" is to be included on "The Massacre," a CD to be released Thursday. Bootleg copies are currently circulating on the Internet.
Other lines in the tune describe the town as easy pickings for a criminal and make an apparent reference to buying guns from basketball star Allen Iverson's local crew. It's all delivered in thick gangsta rap slang, but the message is clear to rap fans.
OK, so there's the story, but the best part comes next, when they interview the proud citizens of Newport News, who are none too pleased:
"People are really upset, especially in Newport News, about the situation," said Mike Klein, music director for WNVZ-FM (104.5). "Some people are still not OK with it. But some people are looking the other way. It's really a touchy subject."
Ah, Z-104, soundtrack to my pubescent days!
Those kinds of interviews are my favorite thing about getting the local paper. Granted, in this case the interview is merited, because at least this is a story about a national perception of this particular town (though I do not know whether the story merits its slot as a "Top Story"). In the local paper here in the Upstate of SC, the opinions of citizens of Greenville are always represented to be "news," worth as much as those of someone who is, oh, informed.
But back to the Daily Press. The 50 Cent story appears on the front e-page below the paper's most recent poll: "Do you think VDOT will meet its latest completion deadline of Aug. 1, 2006, for the Mercury Blvd. project?" Hmmm, as a longtime resident of the News, and just guessing here, I'll say "it is unlikely." Even though the poll does not allow for sarcasm, 94% of respondents answered in the negative. We love you, Mercury Boulevard!
But 50 Cent is trying to improve his image in Tidewater:
Visiting Hampton Roads on Friday on a promotional visit, 50 Cent said the situation had been blown out of proportion. He said he feels affection for Newport News because people here supported him early in his career. Any offense was unintentional.
"Why would I say that about an entire town?" he told listeners on WNVZ's morning show. "I don't want a beef with a town. No town, nowhere."
I'm down with you, 50 Cent!