Despite having imported my Livejournal to this blog, every now and again I’m compelled to check out the halcyon days of yore; days where I used twelve words when seven would do and generally kept it real about what was going on in the life of a collegian recently returned from sabbatical. I didn’t know dick about making a blog visually compelling; in fact, it was months before I figured out how to embed pictures or hyperlinks into text. HTML? Forget about it. I learned how to do the most basic of the basic just last year. All I knew how to do was type. There was a purity in my ignorance that I’m almost covetous of now. I just wrote and pressed ‘post’ and some friends would read it and some friends would like it. It didn’t get anymore complicated than that. Self-serving as it was, I talked about myself and things that interested me. I did it because I like to talk. I put it out there because I hoped people would vibe with it. (Sidebar: Anyone who writes outside of a private journal and says that the sense of an audience doesn’t affect their writing is a prick. It’s certainly foolish to claim that every writer caters to an audience, but I defy the writer who “just writes” and “just happens to leave it around for people to consume”).
Long paragraphs, zero pictures, song lyric titles. If that wasn’t enough, I’d leave to random thoughts at the end of an entry, lest someone be starved for my thoughts on ‘Space Age Pimpin’ (still the greatest rap slow jam in history if you as me). These were the days when I told a version of the truth that was either the real McCoy or close to it; watering down out of concern for public image mattered little then. Sure, I had my fair share of “wow, he went there” material, but I was no one’s Hunter S. If you had to ask me, I’d say it was all in the delivery.
Then, one day, I blinked.
I became aware of the audience; the stakes for who could get hurt or how I could hurt myself became palpable. I got safer and safer. Was I a better writer? I think so, but there was certainly some piss and vinegar missing. I started thinking about what I was going to write; thinking about how to make it really cook. I was thinking about the reading experience rather than just saying “fuck it” and letting it rip. I forgot how to write freely.
Not too long ago, a friend asked if I’d kept a repository of my old AIM away messages, which were replete with salt being thrown on skinny girls. (Why the skinny girl hate? Because, despite the fact I have little against the skinny in actuality, I felt it necessary that someone tell them they’re not thaaat tight). Anyway, I said I didn’t, nor did I remember many of messages. My friend lamented the fact that I had and quipped that they’d make for a great book. I agreed, but as I saw the pages of my skinny girl hate book flutter away, I was struck that the thought had even crossed my mind at all. Yes; a bit more maturity certainly (hopefully) gives you a better sense of perspective. Cherishing memories is something that seems to grow in importance with each passing day. Still, the whole thought process seemed rather sad to the writer I used to be. Hating on skinny girls amused me at that moment. Nothing more or less. Perhaps I should have seeing as I fell into the trap of dispassionate perspective anyway.
There’s so much more texture to my life now, yet as I scroll through the pages of my old blog, I find myself saddened by what I lost and troubled that I might never find it again.
Penultimate Thought: While I enjoy ‘The Best Man’, I can’t help but get hung up on this point: Wasn’t shit gonna go down either way between Taye Diggs and Morris Chestnutt? I mean, dude was gonna read the book eventually, right?
Final Thought: Skinny girls are like drinking out of a colander: Useless.
Sometimes, there are interesting discussions of artistic choices and presentation such as the recent chit chat surrounding Erykah Badu’s “Window Seat” video.
Then there are two-minute YouTube missives explaining the flawed logic of poor artistic choices wrapped in a bow signed “Don’t shoot the messenger.”
Today on Jack and Jill, I shot the messenger (but I did not shoot the deputy).
And since it’s Friday…
A few stray thoughts.
- Riding along the other day while listening to “Beemer, Benz or Bentley”–a song I like well enough–I discovered the crux of my annoyance with the genre’s most popular music. Historically, the MC’s subject matter is overwhelmingly self-centered; this isn’t a knock so much as an acknowledgment of the facts: MCs discussed themselves a good deal as they discussed some aspect of the world around them. As I rode along, I couldn’t really think of another genre of music that was so clearly focused on self, then I considered country, which is very often about Singer X and what Singer X did or didn’t do. Like hip hop, a lot of the subject matter revolves around the same handful of subjects, so what’s my beef with the former? I think my issue is two-fold. Firstly, the hubris, which has always been a staple in hip hop, has gone to a level which is scary. These guys seem to actually believe the things they talk about in a way that is alarming. The hubris is, rarely, balanced out by something that might be described as humility or vulnerability (though I do recognize here that the stuff being played on the radio is not the purview of the artist). Secondly, I think it’s the problem of boring presentation of limited subject and subject matter. The MCs dilemma–should he or she choose to stick to the classic “I” subject script–deserves some attention here. It’s unfair to merely say people just can’t rap anymore (though there are a lot of people who just can’t rap anymore). I think it should be noted that talking about yourself on a diversity of topics isn’t altogether easy. I currently write about myself once a week and find it isn’t easy to parse through what material seems suitable for display (of course you could argue that MCs need to step out into the world beyond themselves, but that’s another discussion.) Where I like the “Beemer, Benz or Bentley”-s of the world, there’s something of a diminished return for similar material that isn’t presented in a clever way (and for those that wonder why Wayne is popular, he’s a guy that is technically proficient and presents material in a more interesting way than most).
- I snapped about this on Twitter the other day, but I’ll do it again because I haven’t said it enough yet: Usher needs to leave the young boys game to the young boys and come out with an acoustic adult contemporary-ish album. Said album should be produced by someone like Babyface or Raphael Saadiq and would want to feature an array of artists across genres and generations. An album without Robin Thicke or the perhaps the chick form Sugarland would be a mistake. As a dude who was in middle school when “You Make Me Wanna” blew up and has been more or less a fan up through the “Confessions” album, I say this strongly: Nothing like “Daddy’s Home” and/or Plies needs to be anywhere near an Usher album.
- Erykah Badu is not Oscar Grant. She’s an artist who took a risk to make an interesting piece of art. She knew the risks of doing so and was brave enough to do it anyway. I applaud her for making a bold music video. It wasn’t cutting-edge or anything, but it was brave, interesting and thought-provoking. In being brave and interesting, in being a badass, you sometimes get in trouble. She (correctly) didn’t want the permits and such necessary because it would have altered the feel and intent of what she was trying to accomplish. Being that she doesn’t appear to be an idiot, she knew there might be consequence for being butt ass naked on the grassy knoll (which is also why she did the video in one take and broke the hell out when they were finished shooting). Taking a risk for your art doesn’t mean you don’t get into shit; it means you care more about the finished product and getting your message out than you do the temporary consequences that may come with it.
- What happened to hard fouls? Watching UCONN’s Maya Moore drop about 30 on Baylor last night, I kept asking myself when someone was going to make her earn it in the paint. Don’t get me wrong; Moore was working to get position, running the floor, etc, but it didn’t seem like anyone was willing to give up “I’ll make you think twice about coming into the paint” fouls. I’m not an advocate of flagrant fouls meted out with an intent to injure. I am saying a hard foul is kinda like brushing someone off the plate: you’re not trying to hurt them, but you are letting them know a bit of courage is required if you want score in these parts.
- Check my Book of Odds post for the week!
Twitterin’ (heeey) sing-le
Oooh, In a 1-0 kind of world
I’m glad I’ve got Twit-ter!
Confession: My Twitter feed is fairly one-note. There’s a spectrum certainly, but even that spectrum falls under the category of “Stuff I’ll tolerate reading 140-characters at a time.” Thus, I don’t have too many people who are, in my opinion, batshit crazy and perpetually insufferable. I once referred to Twitter as the college dining hall for grown-ups and that still applies. The people whom I follow are people who I would sit at a table and shoot the shit with. Read the rest of this entry »
The 2010 Census has “Negro” as a check box.
Question No. 9 on this year’s census form asks about race, with one of the answers listed as “black, African-Am. or Negro.”
Census Bureau spokesman Jack Martin said the use of “Negro” was intended as a term of inclusion.
“Many older African-Americans identified themselves that way, and many still do,” he said. “Those who identify themselves as Negroes need to be included.”
The form was also approved by Congress more than a year ago, and the word has appeared on past forms.
The use of Negro began disappearing elsewhere with the civil rights movement of the 1960s, as black or African-American became the preferred terms.
All things considered, I can’t say this one worked me into a lather. If anything, it just made me furrow my eyebrows and think: Why?
I get that the Census Board wants to make everyone feel included, but it stands to reason that if people are taking the time to fill out the Census, they’ll probably check the most appropriate box, even if they have to do so grumbling. I would like to meet the person beating down the Census Bureau’s door wondering why they as Negroes were left off the form.
As I consider it, the Negro usage seems akin to grouping “Retarded” along with “Special Needs” or “Handicapped” on a form. Yes; both are previously acceptable terms, but now that’s not really the case and more importantly, the use seems unnecessary considering neither denote anything specific or particular.
As you may or may not be aware, a new decade will begin on Friday. Since lists are what people do at the end of things because paragraphs with common threads are just entirely too difficult to cobble together, I’ve followed suit with a random hodge-podge of observations, thoughts and things learned over the course of ten years.
2000: We were league champions after going on an improbably post-season run. Knocked off Wheeler, 53-51. In my career, we only beat Wheeler once. Lesson: Only one game counts.
2001: 9/11. Vagina. Lesson: You can learn all things from war and genitals.
2002: High school graduation.Robert Horry hit that shot against the Kings. on my graduation day. Lesson: Robert Horry is the Butterfly Effect.
2003: Yale. The Michelle. Being an idiot regarding several things, mostly The Michelle-related. Lesson: Flattery is the key to infidelity.
2004: The College Dropout (album and real life). Lesson: Being a nightclub bouncer is infinitely more interesting than folding pants at the Gap.
2005: Yale, again. The Justice League. Argentina with The Intercontinental Champ. Lesson: You can always go home again, but it might not be how you left it.
2006: The best and worst day of college happened on the same day. Iberia. Lesson: Sometimes, you have to make trades, especially when you don’t have a choice. Also, sometimes friendship is no friend at all.
2007: Yale graduation. Lesson: Getting in is easier than finishing.
2008: The Spirit Warrior’s Dream. The Feath. The Election. Lesson: It’s usually the one you never saw coming.
2009: Freezing at the Inauguration. Brougham gets married. The Feath begins work on The Franchise. Lesson: It’s about grown man time…
Because of the above picture, my buddy The Black Snob is just now regaining feeling in the left side of her face.
As I look at it, all I can think is: Kanye’s not that swoll.
That’s about it.
Far be it from me to disavow allegiance to calling out fuckery–I make a living of it frankly and will probably snap about something or other in ten to fifteen minutes–but this just doesn’t bother me. It’s not that I don’t like it or will spend time defending it; it’s that I don’t really care.
Maybe it’s just me, but I think 2009 is the Year of Submission. Not submission in that people agreed to whatever was going on–the year started with The March on Washington II, transitioned into people acting a donkey at town halls and will end with people getting lumped up in Copenhagen–but rather a year in which things topped each other to the degree that, after a certain point, you just sort of shrugged and say “OK.”
This was a year that had no ceiling and apparently isn’t winding down. Stuff will continue going down until 11:59 on the 31st. Count on it.
Michael Jackson, along with every celebrity ever died, a dude shot up a military base and a serial killer’s bodies stunk up a neighborhood. And a cop shot Oscar Grant in the back on the BART platform. And the president was compared to Hitler daily. Tiger had sex with one out of every three cocktail waitresses in the United States.
Perhaps this pic has been brought to my attention far too late. As of December 21st, I can’t muster the strength to even kind of speculate as to why Dave LaChapelle wanted to make this happen. Nor can I speculate as to why Kanye wanted to carry a naked Lady Gaga, doing her best airbrushed blonde bombshell, out of the jungle looking like a zombie Indiana Jones who spends his free time doing crunches in the antiquities wings of Egyptian museums.
I just don’t know. And I care less than I know.
So to this photo I say: OK. #KanyeShrug
Here are a few stray thoughts that defied 140-characters.
1. Since people are hard up for a racial angle in this Tiger debacle, here’s one: I think a lot of people of color aren’t actively defending Elin Nordgeren’s G status because she’s a white girl. People were obviously tickled by the prospect of her busting Tiger’s ass, but it seems that there’s a dearth of people taking up arms for her. This could be a result of the 2009′s inundation of faux-victimized white women (see: Swift, Taylor; Prejean, Carrie) that we’ve been forced to stomach. So let me be a colored who says this: Take his ass to the cleaners, Elin. You didn’t deserve that.
2. Since his wife is going to divorce him anyway, Tiger might as well curb that indefinite leave and get back to work. I imagine the PGA Tour feels the same way.
3. I’m not advocating hostile isolationism, but I do find myself wondering if a nation can be global and still mind it’s own damn p’s and q’s. I appreciate that the US has to set examples and all but…we could stand to get our own house in order.
4. When I hear about cats my age dying, especially if they have kids or are about to get married or something of that nature, I take it a lot more personally than I used to. Peace to Chris Henry.
5. There was something about the Up In The Air ads I wasn’t feeling. This seems about right.