So while I sat in the Second Largest Gym in the World getting paid to watch people walk by me, my buddy Young Arsenio and I had occasion to discuss various topics, including how white people seeing us fold towels was not a good way bring sexy back. After that bit of hard labor, we settled into our respective swivel chairs, pondering the follies of higher education such as girls whose breath stinks and black phones.
Bad breath is a funny can of worms. I mean, everyone has, at one time or another, had hot breath and were aware of the fact. At those times, you make every effort to shield the offense, whether it be through trying to talk out your nose or the blatant admission of funk to those around you coupled by a hand attempting to corral that Burger King onion smell.
But what about the people who have no idea their breath is tart? People who will just talk to you, laugh even, never noticing that your nose hairs are falling out by the bushel. If this is poor form from guys, it’s out and out unacceptable from girls. And if you’re about to ask that dumb “why” question, I’ll tell you why: Because, in certain regards and circumstances, I hold women to a higher standard than people who have balls. And if you say you don’t do the same in some respect about something or other, I want you to quickly go to a mirror, look in it, then slap yourself with a handful of tacks.
Even worse, you can’t really tell a person they have bad breath unless you’re extremely tactless or gay (Let’s be real. Gay dudes can basically say whatever they want to people). Telling a person they have bad breath is kinda like asking to put it in a girl’s butt: The mere broaching of the subject is awkward and while it might pay dividends, it’ll probably just be an unresolved exchange involving hurt feelings and things that stink.
Thankfully, we moved on from breath to the headier subject of black phones. For those of you that only know of Black cultural nuance from the Chappelle’s Show dvds and the fitted hatted byrd g’s whose gaze you avoid on the street, a “black phone” is of the Nextel/Sprint ilk and is notable for its chirp feature. You’ll also know them to be the phones no white person outside the construction community owns (unless of course, they’re the white people who live in the hood, who are a sub-genre that will get further investigation later). Young Arsenio and I generally agreed they were the worst thing ever/ stroke of marketing genius.
On the one hand, they’re utterly annoying and performative. I mean, everybody knows you can turn the chirp sound off and use the walkie talkie feature like a phone, but no. The byrd g’s would prefer to hold the phone about a yard from their face, and rebelliously chirp, waiting insouciantly for shorty to chirp back. When this finally happens, the reply is of little better quality than dispatches from the Ia Drang valley, yet, the recipient understands them and responds without fail. WTF? You’ll be sitting right next to these cats, with the phone basically in your own face, and you hear next to nothing. In the event you do hear the response, it is, more often than not, something the scientific community would declare “niggerish”.
Still, it’s a stroke of genius. Sprint, with it’s “urban” Boost Mobile campaign, is apparently aware that Black people not only like noises that bring attention to themselves (you’ll recall that the whole song ringtone actually began with people having them put on Nextels), but also prefer a certain degree of flexibility in payment. Chirp and pay-as-you go? If Sprint threw in a malt beverage of some kind, they would shut the cell phone game down forever.
We went on to discuss other consumer products and the proliferation of thuggery among the New Haven City byrd g’s of late, but I don’t care to write about that as such things might incur their long tee-shirted wrath, which I can’t afford seeing as I just put a down payment on my bike. Peace to PWG.
Penultimate Thought: In my four years here, I don’t know one Black person that has been robbed.
Final Thought: The ladies might be on to something with this Black Womens’ Coalition. Hopefully they don’t ruin it.
So… I got nothin’.
Penultimate Thought: One of the hardest things to do in life is simplify it.
Final Thought: Though everyone is unique, it is the rare person who is actually special.
What is soul?
It is the fire that burns upon the wick of life.
What is soul?
It is the wind that carried sankofa birds across the Middle Passage to the Cold Land.
What is soul?
It is the shade that keeps us safe from summers long passed and those not yet known.
What is soul?
It is the mark Bull’s hoses and dogs could neither wash nor tear.
What is soul?
It is the fuel that made a sex machine loudly say that he felt good.
What is soul?
It is the thing that made an Ice Man roll his fingers and a Doctor fly.
What is soul?
It is what brings us from mansion floors to Harkness tables in a generation.
What is soul?
It is the tie that binds.
What is soul?
Soul is.Penultimate Thought: Sleeping with your back against bookshelves is not tight.
Final Thought: I don’t know why people act surprise when Muslims start trippin’ over perceived slights.
So, today before I left the office, Jim Harbaugh turned to me, smiling, and asked me what I thought of his quarterback, who had just finished throwing for three and a half football fields against a Yale squad that looked essentially hapless all afternoon. When they weren’t doing that, they were busy looking at their defensive schemes being dissected by a superior talent who spent much of the three hour affair smirking as if interscholastic contests such as this were scheduled to provide him some form of amusement in the fall.
Since I have any and all respect for anyone who has buckled and knuckled for the maize and blue (and also chest bumps with players after big plays like he’s a special teams coach), I twisted my mouth in the “he’s pretty damn good” approving frown and looked across the sidelines at team that had nearly half of its points scored by a dude whose run for life ended up in the other team’s end zone. Now, it would be easy for me to harp on all of the things that went wrong that game. I mean, if you were there, you saw it. If you weren’t, Imagine a bunch of kids playing red rover and one group consistently breaking the finger chain like it was soggy toilet tissue. It was something like that.
To be honest, this was not the thing that disappointed me most about this defeat. It wasn’t a lack of effort; it was more a matter of Yale just being consistently bad over the course of a game, the kind of bad that sometimes comes with adjusting to a speed players haven’t seen in weeks (if ever). Don’t get me wrong, I found it a generally unacceptable performance that bordered on the absurd, but I’m willing to give it the old “a game does not a season make.” Besides, Michigan absolutely shellacked those Catholics from East Bumscrew, Indiana in East Bumscrew, so if you told me I had Thursday class now, I’d be marginally OK with it (Real Talk: I’d fucking snap, but then seek comfort by heckling fans of the Catholics from East Bumscrew).
My real disappointment came in looking across the field and looking at a player whose coaches had caged him when he wanted to try out his new wings, maybe see how the air took to them. Rather than take a page out of Mack Brown’s “How Not To Get Fired When More Than A Few People Wish It So’ manifesto, it was thought that running a scat back into the valley of the giants 31 times in a row would be a better idea than getting a newcomer into situation where he would or would not prove himself. I can understand wanting to ease him into the game plan, but there’s a certain point where you have to let gamers game.
Gamers have that little something extra. It’s goes beyond toughness and talent; gamers aren’t good because they defy the elements, gamers are good because, in tough situations, they’re in their element. Gamers don’t concern themselves with the nuanced and complicated language of doing one’s best and appreciating the finer points of competition and sportsmanship. Gamers concern themselves with one thing: the game. So while we sit and wonder how to go about achieving victory, nuanced language and multicolored ribbonry devoted to celebrating just trying, gamers are sitting anxiously. Why are they anxious? Because they know the faster they knock dicks into the dirt, the faster they can return to being perplexed by ninth place ribbons and the people that love them.
Football is a sport that can easily shackle gamers by virtue of the fact that it flows with difficulty. There is no sure-handed steal that leads to the game winning jumper in Byron Russell’s face. It’s a sport of a whole lot of depending. Yet, at the position of least depending and the one most susceptible to gamerism, Yale decided the ranch and not the open range was the best place for its newest gunslinger. I say you can’t hope to shoot ‘em down if you never really draw. Peace to the killer instinct.
Penultimate Thought: I wish I could grow a handlebar mustache (no exclamation point).
Final Thought: When people break their legs in horrific fashion in a game, there’s basically no need for replay.
“That boy made a mistake”
She said, and with a few hairs flipped
An electric query was brushed from her shoulder
And from beyond life
Tobacco juice drip drip dropped through ‘mused maws
That they had done so well.
Penultimate Thought: MAJC 106.7 in Boston: Lite Radio jump-off.
Final Thought: I’m pretty sure Maury Povich has done about 1000 shows in his career and 912 of them have been paternity cases.
So, after watching the team I despise only a little less than Notre Dame brody Texas, I decided to bathe and meet up with some buddies at a bar run by some noble Mexican chaps. As it’s going to be probably two or two point five more weeks before the sun never returns to New Haven, the streets hummed with the electricity of smart kids with limited social options and less limited resources.
Walking the streets on this particular eve gave me some unoriginal thoughts that nonetheless tickled my brain grundle as I walked toward my Aztec destiny. Outside of the fact that it took me about four years to realize that the big kids in college (e.g. juniors, seniors, grads, former dropouts) actually go places to drink not called Davenport Lower Court or Bingham C72A, I also had occasion to ponder the pageantry of Saturday night.
Now, I can’t pretend that somewhere like South Beach holds a candle to the shenanigans of Park Street on any given weekend night (Sidebar 1: For those of you who suffer the unfortunate plight of the employed, you’ll bitterly recall that the weekend in college begins on Wednesday), but I am willing to bet a hypothetical amount of money that the pageantry is essentially the same, just adjusted to regional sabor (word to my Argentine duns).
Anyway, as I stepped out in my standard red t-shirt that pre-dates my face hair, jeans, 991s, and, of course, the ever-ubiquitous High Life, I became aware that a good deal of the denizens, and certainly a majority of those of the vaginal persuasion, were dressed to the sevens (to say they were ‘dressed to the nines’ would be getting a little carried away). Pumps, chunky necklaces, skirts with the occasional tights underneath, big belts over what look to be sweater dresses rebelliously slid off one shoulder… the ladies and their eyeliner said, “Hey, we probably won’t bang, but you should talk to me anyway.”
I would go in to similar detail about the fellas (no Roman), but we all know it essentially consists of either: a button down shirt (often of the vertical stripe ilk); a polo shirt; or a kitschy park and recreation t-shirt that pre-dates the bearers face hair. Throw in some form of pant and unremarkable footwear, and you’re all set. Still, the thing that struck me was not the manner of dress (I mean, you’ve pretty much seen it all when you’re working on a half decade) , but the fact that we go through this ritual of costume and camouflage for people that are not strangers to us.
Although Toads’ Place is a hole-in-the-wall lounge off the beaten path, many a smart nut case find themselves there week after week, high fiving and risking infection at the touch of nearly any surface. Moreover, they, more often than not, dress themselves to do it (Sidebar 2: By “dress themselves,” I’m making the distinction between how people dress during the school week which, in its pajama-panted and sweatershirted glory, is generally un-spiffy while the weekend addition of the wardrobe is at least trying to give spiffiness a reach-around).Among the social, there is the feeling of being compelled to follow the impulse that says, “it would be hilarious if I wore a D.A.R.E. shirt,” or “If I let my box hang out of my skirt but put a Juicy belt around it, my outfit will say ‘sexy’ rather than ‘nut receptacle’.” What really trips me out is that all of this is done for people we all already know.
Why do people put on these costumes? Am I not going to know you were that girl from section who never recognized me when I half waved on the street? Maybe it gives people a little more confidence; acting as a sort of buffer between us and another human being because, in reality, we’re too terrified just interact with people, which only goes to demonstrate alcohol’s appeal as it is a costume for our senses. Our garbs protect us from being what we fear the most: Being naked.
Clothes and accessories are our agents and that’s why many of us are willing to pay top dollar for them (that and the fact that spending money makes any self-respecting person feel better about themselves). They sell whatever image we care to portray at any given moment. More important than what they sell is what they hide: vulnerability. Maybe thats why the smart nutcases get dressed. Smart n’ Nutties want to tell other Smart n’ Nutties that they are indeed appealing enough to talk to, and in case there is any confusion in this, the former is draped in a shirt with an ironic slogan or multiple tank tops. Thankfully, I have the to confidence to buck trends, instead opting to consistently wear red t-shirts and a clever mesh hat, so I can’t really say I know what other people are going through. Peace to TJ Maxx.
Penultimate Thought: Word up to people wfor having the stones to admit they know what ‘penultimate’ means because of this journal.
Final Thought: I think my cell phone has sickle cell.
So, since it still seems like a good idea to get my certificate of completion from The School Elihu Built When He Wasn’t Slaving, it goes without saying that I was shopping classes furiously, eagerly bouncing from building to building, pontificator to poet, hoping to finally create the schedule that had eluded me my entire college career. And by “shop classes furiously” I mean I went to the two classes I had decided would be the least waste of my time and best use of my Monday through Wednesday schematic. It’s simple really: The Boy Wonder doesn’t do the following: Class before 11, class with section, class on days beginning with the letters S, Th, or F.
Anyway, in the two hours between a class I need to take in order to graduate and one that I actually want to spend time in, I found myself in Valhalla, attempting to eat what technically constituted a salad, though I’m not sure such a name can be designated to a dish made up of mostly the white part of iceberg lettuce. Nothing says healthy like the least nutritious part of the least nutritious source of fiber since printer paper.
As I sat there, sans company, I had occasion to look around the place and come to an unremarkable yet otherwise startling conclusion: I didn’t know most of the people in the joint. Now, it would be foolish to say I ever, during the four years I was supposed to have finished college and begun my sojourn of unemployment, actually knew most of the people in this place ( I mean, there are all kinds of South Asians I don’t even know about) but even in my non-knowing, I knew people by face or terrible footwear.
Now? I can’t tell the difference between the class of 2010 and those unfortunate youth excursions that come to Valhalla every now and again to assuage the university’s liberal guilt by allowing “common” folk to enter the premises without a navy blue polo shirt and ID badge. I really just don’t know who these people are, not by face or section d bag reputation or otherwise. So as I’m sitting there, facing the front doors people walk through to get inside, I found myself doing what we all would do: waiting for one of my homies and or groupies to show up. And it didn’t happen.
I mean, the lack of groupie love was OK because, even your boy needs a day off from it, but the fact that none of my dogs were gonna come woofin was kind of sobering. I could have sat there all day– It is Valhalla after all– and Young MGreevey wasn’t going to walk through, unshaven and ensconced in his fishscale robe. Should I have felt determined enough to keep loyal vigil, He Hate Me was not going to come strolling through the door, phones in ears, nose in air, keeping an eye peeled for any reflective surface that would give him an opportunity admire his first and last love.The hounds I was looking for have gone off to bury their bones in other yards. Biko wasn’t coming. Marion wasn’t coming.
And yet, as I considered all the people that wouldn’t be showing up because they were busy living their lives, I decided it’s probably about time I do the same. As Andre Benjamin quipped, “you focus on the past and your ass’ll be a has-what.” And as I finished my salad, young Wining Boy shuffled in and sat down, bringing an air of possibilty with him. Peace to the sands of time.
Penultimate Thought: Black and white photos are infinitely gullier than color.
Final Thought: Black greeks = Preppy gangs.
So, let’s get something abundantly clear. With the exception of Chuck Taylor’s and adidas Superstars, there is no sneaker more classic than Nike Air Force Ones (heretofore known as ‘Uptowns’). In what some (white) people would term “urban” areas, they are the gold standard. Sure, it’s never bad to have a pair of Jordans, but they’re a mere suggestion. White on white Uptowns (and their black on black dopelgangers) are a requirement. There’s no getting around this. Block etiquette mandates that you re-up(town) one or more times yearly. Other colorways are acceptable as well, but they’re merely tangential ripples to the white on white tidal wave that has been crashing in urbs and burbs for 20 straight seasons.
Alas, even the mighty Uptown has some fatal flaws. Anyone with a show size above 11 knows that and Uptown beyond that point starts to lose fashion stability. Rather than look fly, your feet look like they’re preparing for a moon landing. Thicks soles, a fairly large forefoot area; unless you’re a young gun or Puerto Rican (stop trippin’. You know them dudes and dudettes don’t have the biggest feet), Uptowns are just not real good business. Not to mention it’s not a shoe that ages well. That’s not terribly problematic, but if you don’t have the coin to just go replacing your steps like that, it can be an issue. And please spare me the “man, you just gotta get the toothbrush out” rationale because, while true, it is a methodology that quickly loses its effectiveness.
Personally, me and my clodhoppers prefer the Uptowns’s brash young nephew, theDunk. Though it can never hope to approach Uptown-status (and it probably shouldn’t on principle), it’s a sneaker that gets the job done. Outside of the fact that the designs and colorways seem to have been inspired by a productive Purp session, it’s a streamline sneaker that doesn’t add another yard to the bottom of your ankle. Also, it’s a show that ages very well, so while you don’t wanna see them hurt up, the first signs of maturity won’t make you wanna re-enact Buggin’ Out’s diatribe (number 2 of 3) in Do The Right Thing.
Now, there is no doubt that the Uptown compliments an outfit well. Throw on a nice shirt and a quality pair of jeans and you’re good. They’re never gonna detract from whatever you have on (unless, of course, you’re wearing one of those variant Uptowns that started coming out in about ’97, which is just shameful. And yes, I did have a pair).
However, this is a sneaker that can compliment a little too well. When one considers their aforementioned visual hugeness, complimenting quickly gives way to upstaging. The eye is just drawn to them, which is particularly tragic if the observed is wearing not-quite-baggy-enough jeans or shorts (if you just said to yourself, “My jeans aren’t that baggy and I wear Uptowns,” you look stupid. Sorry). Rather than saying, “That’s a good look right there,” a spectator is more likely to say, “Damn, that mufucka got some big ole feet.” And let’s not forget that, after a few wears, they get that permanent brow-like wrinkle in the forefoot as if the shoe perpetually smells shit, which is special.
Still, even in this petty fashion tirade, I’d make it clear that the Uptowns are legendary. They’re just not infallible. Peace to Crazy Nick.
Penultimate Thought: I think I might have earned a class ring at this point.
Final Thought: I hate it when Ne-Yo does that hat pull down thing.