Category Archives: Life

We Have To Stop Whipping It Out

harvey-weinstein-2016-amfar-new-york-gala-01It must have been the second or third week of Summer Bridge, a program designed to ease incoming Berkeley freshman into the rigors of college life by having them arrive a couple of months early and enroll in summer courses. I, a goofy seventeen-year-old-virgin kid who had literally never kissed anyone save for my family members on the cheek, was laying in my dorm room’s top bunk bed, watching TV with a cute girl whose name I don’t remember. I really need to reiterate that not only had I never been in a position close to this, but I had literally no clue what to do at all. It was never discussed that we were into each other, but it had been pretty flirtatious, so when she casually walked in (everyone kept their doors open in those first weeks to be social) and said she wanted to watch a DVD I nearly fainted. I really don’t remember all the details, though, because it was over 15 years ago. All I know for sure is that we were laying there, essentially in pajamas, in the top bunk… Alone.

The next part I remember more clearly. There was no talking whatsoever minutes after I put the DVD in so I, not knowing what I should do, put my arm around her a little. It wasn’t like full snuggle, but kind of a touch-so-you-know-I’m-touching-you type of thing. She didn’t move or react at all. Dope? I actually wasn’t sure. Life would have been much easier had she swatted me away, or if she welcomed it and maybe snuggled in. No response at all left me in an even tougher position. How much was I supposed to do? In all honesty, I didn’t want to do anything at all. I wanted her to turn and like just tell me she liked me or something and then make a move on me so I wouldn’t have to make any more moves. But that didn’t happen.

So, after maybe an hour of inching closer and closer with no response, I was basically fully spooning, with my arm wrapped over her chest. At this point I was like if she didn’t get it by then, then I was out of options. And that’s where I left it. As soon as the dvd ended, she basically just got up and left. I’m sure there were words, but it’s so long ago, I can’t remember them. I was just like what the fuck just happened?

Fast forward a week or two, we hadn’t talked at all. One day I saw her walking hand in hand with a football player. I, being a little hurt at seeing this, brought up the whole ordeal to a dude I was friendly with later that day. I told him about the night she and I had and at some point he interrupted me.

“Why didn’t you just whip your dick out?”

I’m pretty sure that was the first time I had ever heard that come out of someones mouth. I actually couldn’t believe that was his line of reasoning. I don’t recall what else he said after that, but he did mention that he bet the football player had whipped his out and that’s why he got her.

I tell this story because I have heard of dudes whipping their dicks out HELLA times since then. That may have been the first, but it was certainly not the last. I think I may have heard some guy suggest it to another as recently as a few months ago. I swear this is actually something some people say out loud out of their coddamn mouths. The logic goes that nights like mine were wasted effort. I could have figured out if she was “down” right away and saved myself the trouble of not only that night, but the future embarrassment of seeing her with someone else. There’s also the idea that a woman may really want something to happen, but if you’re not bold enough, then she might never know.

There has never been a day that I considered whipping it out as a litmus test for a future sexual encounter. Truth be told, most men wouldn’t do that either. That doesn’t mean that it’s not an issue. Obviously it’s incredibly problematic that there are some men who think this is a good idea. However, what’s even more problematic is how many men hear about it leading to sex. Let me be clear, I am not blaming women who enjoy the whip it out technique, I am saying that those dudes who get away with it talk about it. They brag about it. I haven’t only heard it as advice, but I’ve heard it as part of a sexual story. And I don’t just mean I’ve heard it as a success story. I’ve heard it described just as often when it fails. It’s bragging if it works, and it’s like a funny aww-man-well-I-tried-my-best if it fails. There’s no, “guys I fucked up and whipped it out.” It’s always so weird to be in the room when someone talks about it. Because it’s always that guy who is such an idiot and an asshole but he always has an audience. I must admit, though, that I’ve laughed at times, or been disgusted at times, or just sat silently at times. Problem is I’ve only considered how much of an idiot the dude is and not at all considered what the woman on the other side of the equation is feeling.

This week the #metoo campaign allowed me to understand the flip-side of whipping it out. It was actually horrifying. I had to stop reading after a while. The frequency with which it occurs, the emotions, the graphic nature of how each of those encounters went down, it all was too much. But why? I have heard those stories from the other side for years. Why was it different now? Because, as I said above, I was no longer looking at it like “this guy sucks I’m not gonna kick with him,” but instead I was looking at it like “holy shit that poor woman! I have no idea how I would handle that or what it would do to me.”

But there was something else, maybe something even bigger that struck me this week. It’s that “whipping it out” is different for man. Guys, dudes, fellas, there are many of us like me who think they’re “good dudes,” but have also “whipped it out” so to speak in the past. Maybe you didn’t go full Harvey, but you grabbed something that wasn’t yours. You said words that were hurtful, or threatening, or something you would never repeat to your sister. You got violent when turned down, or you cat-called from across the street This is important, because many of us think that if we would never date rape someone, we’re good. We think that if we believe in equal pay for equal work that there’s no chance we could make a woman feel like we’ve crossed a line. But I read the stories. You probably HAVE crossed a line. I know damn well I have based on what I’ve read. In fact, I’m stepping up to say #metoo. Not in the same way women have been using it this week, but in the way that acknowledges that some of the stories I heard made me consider my own actions and things I have been silent about.

I have a “friend” who once asked me to use BOOMTHO to do “casting couches,” like in the porn sense. I said WTF? No. But I also laughed to ease the tension.

I know a promoter who beats his girlfriend. I don’t consider us homies at all because of this, but if I’m in line outside the club, I’ll say his name if I see him so I can get in.

I’ve heard stories of bottle service girls and how certain big money clients prefer them, even after the club has closed, or they’ll “pull their business.” When I first heard about them, I just said to myself, that’s what they chose with that job, I guess.

I had one ex-friend who was the absolute worst with women and my friend John and I had to un-friend him, but there was so much before the tipping point (the final straw was him offending me, not the women) that we kind of thought was too much, but he was also a lot of fun. John and I actually used to joke “What Would (he) Do?” because it seemed to come off as confidence. But when it was just us two one day we looked at each other and agreed that we could never be like he was. Still, we let him around women who trusted us.

A girl once visited me in Korea (long ago) and I threw a hotel party in a room with 6 beds, and a dude who was cool with me came and when she layed down and I was still upstairs, he tried to jump into bed with her when he thought she passed out. I actually couldn’t believe it.

I’ve personally done a lot of things I thought were just “funny” but really weren’t, in the end. Beyond that, I’m so sure that someone may have something with me that I don’t even know about because I wasn’t thinking like I do now. Even the first story I told, while looking back at it, I wonder if I did something she didn’t want and I’m part of her #metoo. I’ll never know.

When #metoo began to take off, my mind went to these moments. The women of my timeline showed me something real: we all “whip it out.” Just because you haven’t put a roofie in someone’s drink, doesn’t mean you’re not guilty of being inappropriate. Or even worse at times, guilty of being complicit. Being 99.999% abuse free is still not 100. I can tell you this, 100% of the women I know well said #metoo. It can’t just be like seven mega-predators out there while the rest of us are approaching saint-hood. Really consider your actions, guys. I told my stories above not for women to hear, but for you.

‘Cause, see, I know why you “whip it out.” My first story? We’ve all been there at some point or another. Some of you learned after that whipping it out was easier than dealing with not knowing what’s up. Maybe you had homies who were getting laid and all you heard about them was that they whipped it out. Maybe you asked “What Would Jim Do?” and you did it and it worked one time. So you tried it a couple of times and it worked again. Success! Maybe it was just funny that time. Or maybe you didn’t mean anything by it. Maybe you get your butt grabbed at a party from time to time so you think it’s all the same. Maybe she was dressed oh-so-sexy and how could you do go on without whipping it out?

But you never considered what it’s like to be on the receiving end. Why? Because then you’d have to reconcile those feelings with your actions. It would be tough, right? You know why I don’t watch videos about how food is made? Because I would drastically change my eating habits if I saw slaughterhouse footage and I really like steak. Admit it, you enjoy what whipping it out gets you and you don’t want to consider what it may mean to anyone not you. It makes sense because we learned from our fathers who could live recklessly until their “daughter changed [them].” And they learned from their fathers who didn’t want women to have voting rights. So here you are, trying your best, thinking that sometimes women want it, so #metoo is kind of bullshit.

Some of you are my friends. I’ve SEEN you whip it out. Some you same people posted that they supported #metoo. Ok, bro. I challenge you to empathize and take a look in the mirror yourself. Lord knows I have and it’s tough to acknowledge. But how else are you supposed to actually improve? I’m actually writing this on a bus ride after a basketball game, and this shit was in my head during the damn game! Because it’s not easy to swallow what we’ve done. But, in sports, there are practice players and there are gamers. It takes a ton more effort to win a game. Don’t just post about it on facebook. Get in the game! I know it’s not easy to just speak up when it’s just us, but we have to at some point. At least challenge those who do those things one on one if the group setting is too awkward. I don’t have all the answers and many of the issues come from sexual expectation, gender norms, mating traditions, social expectations, etc. There is nuance at times and situations can be tough to read. All that said, you can learn a lot about how to proceed just by reading some more #metoo and talking to the women in your life in an open and honest way. Then maybe we can all stop whipping it out be the people we claim we are.

Privilege, Race, and Why I Won’t Return to PB Shore Club Again.

My old friend Josiah is the creator of and writer for a show on Comedy Central called “Legends of Chamberlain Heights.” It can be lazily summarized as a black version of “South Park” but if you understand it, it’s actually a very nuanced look at black culture. You should watch it. Even if you don’t fully understand what’s happening in the show, some of the themes transcend racial boundaries and become easily accessible tidbits of socially aware, yet comedic gold.

In the second episode of this season (titled “Chocolate Milk”), a white guy wants so desperately to be black that he uses a tanning salon to look more like Chris Brown. After his transformation is complete, life has never been better for the guy and he starts to neglect his friends and become an asshole. So, eventually, one of the homies purposely changes the setting on his tanning machine so that he looks more like Akon. At this point, life is miserable. Black and white people alike treat him like a second class citizen, a thief, ugly, etc. until he’s almost fully broken down emotionally. Then, like a final blow, someone else comes at him with more negativity. He starts to lose it and begins breaking things and hitting people.  His friends get scared that he’s going to destroy everything and they tell him to “take it easy.” The brilliance of the show is summed up in his angry response:

“WHY I ALWAYS GOTTA BE THE ONE TO TAKE IT EASY?!”

On Saturday afternoon I headed down to Pacific Beach in San Diego to meet up with my homie Keoni with whom I used to play AAU basketball back in high school. My brother, my girl, and I met him at a place called Shore Club, which was one of those spots with a long line that’s located right by the water. I’m pretty sure every beach city from daygo-to-the-bay has one.

Anyways, we had been inside for maybe three hours. I had bought trays of shots for the group. Nobody was causing a scene. The music was dope. It was just a great pre-fourth turn up… Until it wasn’t.

Literally out of nowhere I feel a hand in my pocket. I’ve always had super quick reflexes (it’s why I get stung by bees on my neck and hands so often. I feel it and smack without thinking) so my first reaction is to grab down on whatever is happening down there with the quickness. I whip my hand back up and realize inside my hand in a random white girl’s wrist, and her hand is full of my stuff. My phone, wallet, and keys are STILL IN HER HAND. It honestly happened so fast that I was confused at what I was seeing.

With her wrist still in my right hand, I grab my stuff out with my left and say “WTF are you doing?”

“You stole my stuff!” she brazenly yells back at me.

After years of being accused of things and knowing how this can end, I walk her over to the nearest bouncer and explain to him what happened. There are a few things you need to keep in mind here. First, the whole time it took from my feeling her in my pocket to when I got her to the bouncer might have been 10 seconds. He was very close and everything developed very quickly. Second, I had her wrist the whole time. My immediate thought was that if I let it go, it would be a he-said-she-said and the wrist was some sort of proof for my side as far as I saw it.

Back to the bouncer. I explained to him that I was being accused of stealing, but that her hand was literally on my stuff and — he gives her the slightest nod in the middle of my coddamn sentence! I look at him and tilt my head and say “oh you know each other?” and I walk away, looking for the next bouncer. Mind you, this first bouncer was black, so the when I found the next bouncer 5 feet away who was also black, I wasn’t surprised that they were looking at each out with an unmistakable unspoken communication that screams “I got you homie.”

I literally say out loud “oh shit.”

Now I’m hustling. I see a group of bouncers on the other side of the room. There’s like four of them, all white. I look back at the first guy and the girl is now BALLING TEARS. Great. I get to them as quickly as possible and start to explain whats happening. I tell them that I think the first guy knows the girl and that I just need someone in the building who will listen to my story and be unbiased. Right then, the second black bouncer comes over and explains that he needs to talk to me outside. Mind you, it’s probably been about 65 seconds since the hand was in the pocket so it’s all happening so fast. Also keep in mind that this place is up like two flights of stairs so “outside” basically means “we want you to leave.” All the bouncers in front of me now pretend that they can’t hear my story. Like my words literally have no volume to them or something. The other guy repeats that I need to go outside with him. I yell out “WHY?!” It was probably the only word I said louder than necessary to simply be heard over the music.

I ask to speak to whoever is in charge. Of course one of them already is. He says that I now officially have to leave because I raised my voice and was being unruly. I can’t believe what is actually happening because my story is not being heard, nor has it been heard. I leave through the side while they’re still discussing how to remove me (I was never non-compliant or irrational). I come around to the front of the building and try to plead with the last two bouncers I can find. I tell them the story and I say that I understand they have protocols, so I guess I accept my fate, but can anyone do anything about the person who started all of this? That same black bouncer from earlier then comes around to the front and explains that I was ejected for being loud and unruly. They all proceed to ignore me.

So here I am. I’m outside and alone and upset. Eventually, everyone in my group realizes I’m not inside anymore and they come out find to me and when they do I’m hysterical. They’re all confused, having not had to deal with what I did. They’re asking rational questions but I’m sick of being rational. I just spent 20 minutes pleading with people every way I knew how, I’m done explaining. I’m angry. They’re trying to calm me down, I’m not in the mood. Eventually Keoni says, in so many words, that I gotta take it easy.

“WHY I ALWAYS GOTTA BE THE ONE TO TAKE IT EASY?!” I yell, through tears of frustration.

I tell this story not because I want revenge on Shore Club (but I wouldn’t be mad if they went out of business for any reason), but because I truly think there’s an idea that racism and privilege only come in the form of police brutality or white dudes who say “nigga” because they think it’s funny. In truth, there’s no shortage of ways to dehumanize someone. In fact, many of these things happen to people of color on a daily basis. But it’s the idea that these things have no bearing, or as Jason THE ASSHOLE Whitlock might say, they don’t affect me at the end of the day that is an even bigger lie. The fact of the matter is that they do. They lead me (and persons of color all over) to inherently behave in ways that assume fault within ourselves. We eventually begin to treat and think of ourselves as second class. Then, when we’ve been brought all the way down, we break. Let me explain…

As soon as the girl had her hand in my pocket, I didn’t think about getting upset with her, I thought about making sure I wasn’t in trouble. I thought of every way I would be assumed to be too drunk, too loud, too intimidating, not clear enough, and eventually guilty of something I didn’t do. It’s happened before.  In fact, the first thought in my head was that I believed her. I didn’t believe that I stole something from her, because I hadn’t, but I believed her story that she was only in my pocket because she thought I had something of hers. A rational person should believe that she was lying, actually attempting to steal from me, and came up with a quick cover-up. But it was a place with like 40% black people and black people steal and white girls don’t, right? In a weird way, I was on her side, but also trying to protect myself. Even the first bouncer (who was black) took her side, maybe for other reasons, but it was enough to allow him the comfort necessary to kick out a fellow black man for no reason. Everyone in on the plot save the white girl and her believability.

What’s crazy is to consider the story was reversed. If I was at an all white-person party and was literally caught with my hand in a white girl’s purse, all her stuff in hand, and I accused her of stealing from me as a snap response, I’d probably end up AT LEAST getting questioned by the police. Even if I knew the bouncer or something, I’d still end up in trouble. The system, yes THE system, is designed to help her and hurt me. I am inherently dangerous, she is inherently innocent and in need of protection. As Hari Ziyad put it, “White women have been positioned as the epitome of vulnerability and virtuosity to the point where they can hardly do any wrong, despite having done so much already.” And what took me all of 12 years of life to learn was that no matter how I speak, or how clearly I explain myself, or where I am, or what I’m doing, her word will be stronger than mine. Not only that, but if there’s something else I’ve come to actually fear, and that’s the feeling of having nowhere else to turn. That night, I kept looking for ONE PERSON to actually hear me out. The feeling going from calm to panic as I quickly realized that there was nowhere to turn. I don’t think that girl has ever felt that feeling. She would just as soon sue the whole city of Pacific Beach than go to bed feeling wronged. And I don’t know that for sure, but I know that someone with the balls to put her hands in a man’s pocket and assume no fault would just as soon go the extra legal mile once she contacted the family lawyer.

But I, Rod Benson, have no family lawyer. I have to exit the building and go home and deal with it. And do it again the next time it happens. And again the next time. Eventually, you build up a tolerance to be able to deal with most of these situations so that you can just live with being yourself. Towards the end of that episode of “Legends,” they address that too. One of the newly Akon’ed dude’s friends asserts that he “hasn’t had a lifetime to build up enough stamina for all that niggyness.” Stamina is required, to be sure, and most people have no idea it’s there, deflecting each traffic stop, job rejection, youtube comment, or asshole who tells you the Black Panthers are worse than the KKK. But like any shield, it gets weak and eventually cracks, if even for a moment, showing the vulnerability of the person beneath. And that vulnerability usually comes off as anger.

I know that this can seem like it’s some anti-white girl tirade. I assure you it is most certainly not. I’ve always said in basketball when someone plays dirty or gets away with a foul, that I can’t be mad at them for playing that way. If the refs allow it, then those are the rules that day. I’m oddly not upset with her, personally, either. She’s just playing by the same set of rules she always has. It’s just SO upsetting to have to repeatedly play by a different set of rules than her. It’s upsetting to try to kiss the refs ass all game and still get tossed. And when you ask them why you’re being ejected, they tell you it’s because you didn’t take it easy. Eventually you get so mad that there’s only one sentence you can get out of your tired, broken soul:

“WHY I ALWAYS GOTTA BE THE ONE TO TAKE IT EASY?!”

Tagged

On Hillary, The Sexism Card, and Feeling The Bern

I want to preface what I’m about to say by first saying I like Hillary. I mean, I like her more than any GOP candidate sans Rand Paul (who has dropped out). She has a list of social and political accomplishments that runs deeper than most, and an absurd amount of time spent int he public eye. From what I read it’s (correct me because I’m remembering) something like the second longest “public eye” tenure of all time. Pretty special. Truly, I know people who have worked on her past campaigns (some still do), and many others who have been personally touched by her or her family and have been encouraged by her personal and political perseverance. If I could have her over for dinner and a chat, I’m sure I would learn a great deal from her and have an amazing experience.

Ok. That said, I don’t want to vote for her if I don’t have to. I totally will if push comes to shove in a general election, but I’m just not high on her as the future president of this country. For MANY reasons, I’m just generally unimpressed. I have been since 2007 when she tried the first time to claim America’s highest political position (“people think if Obama is elected the skies will open and light will raindown… blah blah” – Hillary 08). Now I base everything I’m saying on either policy, past political decisions, and my general feeling for the good for the country going forward (call it an X-factor?”). So it should come to no surprise that I’m very excited about Bernie Sanders going forward. For reasons I’ll elaborate on later, he’s my guy. It’s a primary currently, and things can change, but I hope it all works out and he can represent our country for the next four to eight years. In the past, this would make me an informed voter with an opinion, but lately it makes me sexist, or so I’m being told.

It was probably a week before the Iowa Caucuses (which is literally grouping people up and doing a headcount to determine the future of the country, but whatevs) that anti-bernie rhetoric began to come out of larger media outlets. Expected fire as a presidential candidate, but what I noticed very quickly was that the tone was very different than other endorsements/attacks I’d seen in the past. It wasn’t so much of “she has a better plan going forward,” but more like “stop making fun of her because it’s sexist.” “You only don’t like her for reasons she can’t control.” “She’s doing the best she can, and she’s a BAMF, and you need to chill.” I mean these quotes were literally the theme of, or quoted from some of these blog entries and articles.

One of these articles that first caught my eye was one entitled “Bernie bros, stop this meme: Your dumb joke about Hillary’s music taste isn’t funny — it’s predictably sexist” Go ahead and go read it. The author says that there’s a meme (I think it’s hilarious, but I guess I’m sexist) that is unfair to Hillary because women’s taste/knowledge/authority in music has always been marginalized by men and that there’s societal pressure on women to capitulate in numerous ways regarding a variety of issues. Another article that went viral was one called “An All-Caps Explosion of Feelings Regarding the Liberal Backash Against Hillary Clinton” Honestly, much of the same, but much angrier and less music focused.

So let me take a step back for a second. As a black man, I remember the 2008 election feeling like it was bigger than electing a president. It was about making/changing the course of history. I was awoken by a phone call in the dead of night (I was living in France at the time) to alert me Obama had won and I watched the Chicago rally and cried. It was a moment I wouldn’t trade for the world. But looking back, although everybody got swept up in the ideas of hope and change, Obama’s skin color was a large part of that. To elect a black man president was the biggest sign that there will always be hope and that the country had already changed, regardless of what came next. It was irrational, sure, but not unimportant. Obama’s actual time in office would serve to remind us that there are political shackles and that sometimes change is slower than we like. But in my mind, just putting a coddamn black man in that seat was enough.

Why am I saying this? Because I feel like we have reached another point in our history where a new version of hope is being offered. The difference is that it’s being offered in completely different ways by two different candidates. Bernie Sanders is offering the promise of complete political reform and revolution, breaking up of the big banks, and defending of the “little guy.” Hillary Clinton is offering something much smaller politically — to continue where Obama left off, essentially — but larger socially: the opportunity to put a coddamn woman in that seat. This has created a problem.

It is my opinion that the idea of “putting a coddamn woman in that seat” has begun to blind some people to the issues at hand. When I say some people, I mean some feminists. I need to be clear that it is not all feminists. Just some. But a rowdy bunch who I’m sure advocate for and actively promote real change on the front of gender equality. Still, that voice is the one that drives articles like the ones I posted above. To quote the latter article: “SO, YES, I’M EMOTIONAL AND I’M YELLING. BECAUSE THIS IS FUCKING EMOTIONAL FOR ME. I WANT A FEMALE PRESIDENT AND I WANT PRESIDENT HILLARY CLINTON. I WANT BOTH OF THESE THINGS BUT MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE I WANT WOMEN TO HAVE AN EQUAL FUCKING FAIR SHAKE. I’M SICK OF THIS STUPID BULLSHIT DISGUISED AS POLITICS, MASQUERADING AS POLITICAL OPINION.
SO FUCK EVERYTHING. I’M WITH HER.”

Girl. I hear you. But you wrong, sister. Hillary isn’t getting an unfair shake because she needs to keep her hair together and wear makeup while Bernie doesn’t (although I agree that’s BS). She’s not getting an unfair shake because of societal pressures on women to appear more youthful and in touch and smile (also BS). She’s not being asked to whip and nae nae because she’s a woman and she has to “play the fucking game” to get where she needs to (although I acknowledge that many women have to and, again BS). True liberals (not the independent, the confused, right wingers, or people don’t care either way and won’t vote) don’t like her policy compared to Sanders. I mean really. I know that sounds CRAZY. I know you think if she had the same stance as a man she wouldn’t even need defending, but it’s just not true.

One thing I found hilarious was that the first article I listed basically said that the meme was a sexist representation of how “female music journalists, fans and musicians themselves deal with these false and stupid assumptions all the time.” I’m actually pretty sure that women do face all those issues, but the meme has nothing to do with that. It has to do with Hillary playing the game TOO much. Pretending to enjoy youthful things that makes her look out of touch.

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 7.11.55 AM.png

You say she has to play the game, feminist? I say no. I truly don’t think she does. Her pandering to the youth is a bit newer, but her changing of opinion on important issues is something that has followed her for LONG periods of time. Many people (regardless of their political affiliation) have seen this for years. Take the time to watch this:


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/105062617″>Elizabeth Warren on Hillary Clinton</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/moyersandcompany”>BillMoyers.com</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>

In case you didn’t watch, Elizabeth Warren takes the time to explain Hillary in a nutshell. Hillary’s very smart. She cares. She understood how a certain bankruptcy bill would negatively affect families after Elizabeth explained it to her in the 90s. She took that info to Bill Clinton who vetoed the bill after it passed in the house and senate. She took credit for having brought it to his attention (as she should), then as senator of New York, voted in favor of the same bill due to political pressure and money from lobbyists/donors. The question is, in any other election cycle besides the last two or three would this be a problem? No. So why has it been lately? BECAUSE BERNIE SANDERS IS ATTACKING HER ON THOSE ISSUES EXACTLY AND PEOPLE ARE LISTENING (how’s my all caps game? strong. I know.)

Her problem is that Bernie has been on issue for decades. Do I agree with EVERYTHING the man says? No. I’ve never agreed with 100% of anyone else’s thoughts because my own life is specific and politics is a game of generalities (unless you’re super rich). But the man has been consistent AF. Like so consistent that it makes ANYONE who “plays the game” look bad. It’s just the man’s strength. Seriously, click that link. It’s kind of incredible how he’s never strayed from his message. Which, BTW, is one of many reasons the whole ‘bernie just says what you want to hear’ argument is trash — the man has always said the same thing. We just want to hear it now. It’s like he’s been wearing the same outfit for decades and that shit just came back in style. Hillary just simply can’t beat him in that arena. AND IT LOOKS BAD WHEN SHE TRIES. Don’t believe me? Watch this:

Further, does anyone remember that thing from a couple years ago? If only I could recall what it was called… Well anyway since I can’t- PSYCH IT WAS CALLED OCCUPY MFING WALL STREET. Yea, that. The point of all the marching, yelling, tear gassing, etc was not so that hippies could sleep on the steps of Goldman Sach’s. It was so that we could do our best to try to bring about change in that area. Bernie saw this as his clothes coming back in style. So boom, he threw on his pants of socio-economic justice and told us he’d like to be president. You think liberals aren’t going to love hearing that? You’re higher than the guy asleep on the steps on Goldman if so.

So what you see are people who want authenticity, wall street reform, income equality reduced, etc and then you have Hillary looking very hypocritical and even disingenuous at times when she claims to want the same thing. It has nothing to do with her being a woman. I mean really. It doesn’t. So many of the feminist articles go into how for her to be the first female president she will have to do all of those things and play the game to break through. I couldn’t disagree more. Know why? Because I WOULD VOTE FOR ELIZABETH WARREN IN A HEARTBEAT. WHY? BECAUSE SHE HAS NEVER FLIP FLOPPED OR TALKED DOWN TO HER VOTERS. I know a presidential run is different. It’s larger. It’s tougher. But Mrs. (Ms.?) Warren is like Bernie on the issues and has never (from what I’ve seen) been a political opportunist. She doesn’t have the authenticity problem. I can literally only name Bernie and Warren as politicians who have experience both in politics and staying on message.

Anyways, it’s not right to call those who support Bernie (or make fun of Hillary in a non sexist manner) “Bernie Bro’s” because many are women. Many are feminists. We aren’t sexist. We aren’t part of a larger problem. We just like another candidate more and for legitimate reasons. Most of us don’t mind your opinion either. That’s why we have a democracy, tho. Some of us aren’t into the idea of a “well-you-want-a-lot-of-things-that-just-aren’t-possible-so-just-vote-for-me-and-we-will-basically-do-what-we’re-doing-now” type of candidate. We just aren’t “settlers,” and it doesn’t mean we’re sexist.

Note: Excuse any errors as it’s late and I’m in Korea and my foot hurts. Valid excuses, all of them.

 

Tagged , , , , , ,

A Message To Anyone Who Doesn’t “Get It” About The Racial Tensions in Missouri

I don’t remember what I told my mother, but it must have been a lie, because my curfew would never have allowed me the time to go out to a party. The midnight carriage-to-pumpkin life was a big part of the reason many kids never saw me at parties (or any social gatherings outside of athletics for that matter). But that night I was in a car with my homies on the way to what we were told was a “party by the cliffs.” I really don’t remember who I was with, how we heard about this “party,” or what our intentions really were (I didn’t drink or anything), but I remember I felt this crazy sense of freedom and excitement at the possibility of just being there. When you’re 17 year old virgin who never even has to opportunity to party, this makes total sense.

After I had hiked down the flights of stairs, I headed down the sandy beach towards the cliffs we knew our peers would be located. I never made it.

As I approached the gathering, a small group of kids stopped me. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing here?” one of them said. It was a kid named Cyrus. We weren’t friends, but I wouldn’t have called us enemies. I barely knew him outside of whatever classroom environment we had shared in the past, so it was odd that he came on so strongly.

“What are you talking about?” I asked, confused.

“Get the fuck out of here now, you stupid nigger, before we kill you,” he replied.

I stood there shocked for probably longer than I should have. Here were four kids I had shared classes with since eighth grade, approaching me for the first time ever, in a completely racist manner. I promptly left and went home and cried to myself. These people had seen me around for years and years and never once mentioned that they hated me, and that it was racially motivated. I had had run-ins with racist people or situations in the past, but this was so different. This was home. Was I supposed to never go to the beach again? Was I supposed to now stay away from certain areas during school? Why? Just, why? I never felt comfortable within 100 yards of any of those guys again.

So a few days ago, the President of the University of Missouri resigned over student action regarding his (mis)handling of recent racial tensions on campus. I kept tabs on the story, especially once the Mizzou football players became involved and refused to play another game until he resigned. That was an epic, brutally effective way to not only call attention to the situation, but to also get results. I felt elated that athletes had somehow learned that (for some odd reason) a University can’t survive without it’s major sports. I did, however, wonder what the resignation would really do to ease the tensions? If anything, I postulated, this could escalate further with no one in a position to actually handle the situation the way he should have. I expected there would be a ton of anti-blacklivesmatter rhetoric and conspiracy theories about how the whole thing is a hoax. I expected comments like this:

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 2.55.45 AM

I expected these things because I’m used to these things being standard reactions from people who don’t get it, or can’t get it, or (and most infuriating) have no desire to get it. I never thought about what happens when these people who don’t “get it” believe they’ve been so wronged that they must act. I never thought that these people would take to the streets and to the campus and literally terrorize black students.

I won’t repost all the hateful messages or disturbing videos here but there are plenty of them. That said, one message was made abundantly clear: black students should prepare for a “school shooting” style massacre if they dare show up tomorrow (Nov 11). Students are scared, teachers are saying they will still administer tests, police are relatively unresponsive. It’s a mess. It’s a frightening mess.

Upon hearing about what has recently unfolded at Mizzou, my mind went back to that night at the cliffs. There’s an especially helpless, scary, cold feeling when the racism is in your home. These kids are students. They live on campus. They are part of the fabric of that community, and the hate has come to meet them right there. The portion of their lives that can be a refuge from all of the negativity and hate has now been taken over, like a cancerous tumor, with little option of how to proceed. The only options are seemingly like Chemo — as harmful to their health as to the problem. MAN my heart sank when I heard this. All of the feelings have resurfaced; I feel as they feel.

But I say all of this not because I can be another outlet for the information to disseminate, but because I need people to “get it.” Don’t say you don’t, or you can’t, or you won’t “get it.” TRY TO F&*$ING GET IT. Here’s what I’ve realized: people who don’t “get it” are liable to flip and become someone who acts in ways I’m not even sure they’re proud of. Like a lot of the kids I grew up with who had never lived anywhere else or seen a different way of life so closely that they had no choice but to understand it, the people who don’t “get it” haven’t experienced enough other things/people/ways of life to even understand that they don’t “get it.” Example: one of the kids from that night at the cliffs saw me at a bar many years later and apologized. He said he never felt good about it. It was one of the most meaningful apologies of my life. The other kid, Cyrus? He killed himself a few years later. He was obviously dealing with a lot in his life and I forgive him for how he manifested it towards me. We were kids. We all did things.

What I’m saying is it takes an understanding beyond the usual “I have a black friend” state of mind. I have many non-black friends (some very close) who don’t “get it.” Why? Because they tune me out when I try to bring it up. It takes an understanding that #blacklivesmatter is not some conspiracy to wage war on whites and police. I understand that your favorite politician may say it is, or your favorite blog, and they may be right about many other things, but that is patently false. Last year I had the pleasure of marching with these folks on a few occasions. It was peaceful, but deliberate. It was powerful, yet tame. It was necessary if even one more person “got it.” It takes an understanding that minorities of all kinds aren’t looking for special treatment, but maybe putting up with the usual racism in blog comments (how many times was I called a Nigger in my one youtube video that had a million views? I dunno, maybe a million times), social media, police interaction (yea, Ive been pulled over for no reason more times that I can count), general media portrayals, video game interactions, and institutions is cool, but when it hits home, we are forced to do SOMETHING to show those who don’t “get it” that we wish they would.

Tagged , , , ,

They Don’t Make Men Like They Used To? Are You Sure?

So yesterday an EliteDaily headline started dropping down my newsfeed: “They Just Don’t Make Men Like They Used To.” I had to click it because, well, I wanted to see if it was another BS attempt at blaming the opposite sex for the things the author hates about dating. It was. Written by Lauren “LMONEY” Martin (who has 1036 articles published on ED to date), and posted in the “Women” section of the site, the article is basically summed up in the headline. She says:

I love how they wait for you on benches and listen to the details of your day. I love how they talk about women with respect and admiration. I love how they take pride in their appearance but more pride in their actions. I love how they drink but can hold their liquor. I love how they are strong and stable. Oh wait, I’m sorry, these men don’t exist anymore.

Ok, she had my attention…

No longer is it clean sweaters and nice shoes, but t-shirts with the sleeves cut off and Air Jordans. No longer is it subtle compliments and passing glances, but whistling out of car windows and misleading emojis. No longer is it conversations about women with depth and real beauty, but tits and ass, always tits and ass.

Now, I know that Cary Grant, Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra were figures created by Hollywood, but it’s about what they represented — which was style.

She actually then goes into a whole “funny,” specific list of things that men used to do that they don’t do anymore. I won’t list them all here, but you can check her out (man I hate giving stupid things good traffic). What I will do is say my piece.

Ok. So let me first say that she did do the obligatory yes-I-know-it’s-not-everyone-I-do-know-some-good-boys thing to make her generalizations seem more effective, so I guess I’ll do the same… Actually F-that. I won’t. That was stupid first and foremost because she actually said the word “boys” and then continued to say that she knows some “boys who [she thinks] will grow up to epitomize what men used to be.”

So I guess she’s been hanging around the playground lately these days?

Anyway, here’s the problem: there really isn’t one. And this has nothing to do with the fact that it targets men. I read another article on ED a few months back that was titled something like “Chivarly is Dead and Women Killed It.” Once again, it was catchy, but fell flat. Both arguments are written by whiny people who I assume are struggling to find their mate, just like all of us. Unlike all of us, they want to take the blame out of their own hands. But I’ll get to that later. Let’s start with some of the specifics that LMONEY laid out for us…

However, like anything in this world, generalizations are formed when trends are set and the men today have been setting some pretty bad ones. No longer is it smoking cigars and drinking brandy, but popping molly and smoking perks.

I have a lot to say about this. These two sentences are huge to me. First of all, EVERYONE knows that WOMEN drive the trends that men use to find women. I can’t say it has always been that way, but they damn sure do now. Women may not have all the power in one-on-one interaction with their potential partner, especially if trying to be supportive and whatnot, but as she used the term “generalizations,” so will I. Generally, men respond to what women want. Just look at any one of my friends who have straight hair. They all have the SAME DAMN HAIRCUT.

Image

Why does everyone have this cut? Because women have determined it to be the best right now. Obviously, it varies slightly from man to man, but the above + some stubble = that dude is probably getting laid. Does every man have it? No. But the dudes who live where I do do. Trust me, if women liked bowl cuts again, I’d even try to figure out how to grow a bowl cut Afro. We as men literally will do anything if a woman likes it. I’ll also expand on that later, but Katt Williams lays it out perfectly while describing why he keeps Alize in his house:

16965475

I know those are just a couple of examples, but I doubt I really have to list the entirety that is the male existence to prove that point. But she then mentions drugs and alcohol. I love this. It’s like she’s never been to a whiskey bar in her life. Listen closely — and this can apply to many parts of her article as well — if you want something, KNOW WHERE TO CODDAMN FIND IT. If you want to part take in the finer things, go to finer places. YOU WILL FIND PEOPLE THERE WHO SHARE YOUR INTERESTS.

Why is that important? Well because I know I can go to Seven Grand in Downtown LA, to The Edison, to Wood and Vine in Hollywood, Blind Barber in Culver City, and to Tasting Kitchen in Venice (and many, many more) and find guys who enjoy Whiskey and prefer it to Molly. If you only go to EDM venues and follow Skrillex on Instagram, then it will be tough to a) avoid dudes who like molly, b) expect to find a simple man who enjoys his whiskey, and c) expect that simple man, on the off chance that you meet one, to have much in common with you. That’s like me expecting to meet a Rolex at Walmart.

Oh, and your boy Cary Grant? The type of guy you “miss”? He was real big on LSD, not so much Whiskey.

Which brings me to another point. What is with all this nostalgia for the days before women had any social rights? Do you really miss those days? First of all, how do you miss something you never knew? Does getting married at age 17, probably by shotgun, to a dude from your high school town of 400 people, and raising his kids while he cheats on you every chance he gets because “boys will be boys,” and his job flipping burgers and changing oil (at the same time — so manly) brings home the bacon? Maybe that’s the dream of some people, but it can’t be many. Women so often conjure visions of courtship and true love from the old days — not just lust and sex — so I understand why they seem desirable. But guess what, FEMINISM changed that, and in my opinion, for the better.

People always say the divorce rate is rising all the time. Did you know it’s actually falling? Since when? Well, in the sixties, when feminism finally started making real progress, women started fleeing their husbands at crazy high rates. Much higher than now. Now that people have more choices, more time to decide if marriage is for them, and more education and opportunity so that they don’t depend on us “manly men of the past,” the divorce rate (and marriage rate) has been steadily falling. Go figure.

Also, when thinking about the past, you can’t just bring up three bad ass movie stars and think that it was all zuit suits and swing dances. Have you seen Lawless? I like that example of the past much better as most americans did not live in big cities. If you take away the violence, it’s just about regular (poor) folk trying to make it. They’re wearing ties, I guess, and because they’re movie stars they look nice, but then google the people the movie was based on. Does that look sexy to you? For every Sinatra, there were a million dudes who didn’t even own a suit. And seriously, regardless of the time, do you really think men don’t know they look better in suits? Women love them. We know. Them shits be ‘spensive, yo.

But it’s not about that. It’s about the style. The romance. It’s about gestures.

I understand that. This to me is the biggest thing she misses. This is the one main thing I want to make clear. When I said I’d elaborate all those times before, it was leading to this.

Ok. Think hard. Really hard. If you’re in a relationship and in love, then stop thinking. You’re cool. If not, then think. Does an article like hers (or that women killed chivalry) really apply to you? Women, are there truly no men in your life who will buy you flowers and take you to nice dinners and hold the door open for you? Men, are there really no women who prefer to take it slow, make you work for it, and who are worth it in the end? I know people want to just shout that there aren’t, but that’s not true. You just don’t like the person who is offering you those things. You like the person who offers you NONE of it. Call it human nature. Call it stupidity. Call it whatever you want. It’s true.

The big thing we always think when we don’t get what we want out of someone else is that they just don’t do those things. I once fell for a girl and used to wonder why she would never open up. I figured it was part of her personality to be distant, to be kind of a bitch, to never let me get too close. Then one day I found an elaborate love letter she wrote to another dude begging him to do the same thing that I wanted from her. She wanted just a little more effort. She even mentioned how she did things for him she didn’t do for anyone else. I realized I was never that guy.  So here’s the newsflash, everyone is doing that for SOMEONE. If it aint you, then it AINT you. It has nothing to do with the fact that shit just ain’t how it used to be.

The worst part of LMONEY’s article is that she thinks she’s WORTH all that stuff she listed. We don’t know that. Why would anyone waste their time courting someone who isn’t worth it. I think Justin Timberlake is the modern movie star gentleman. Does this chick really think she’s going to find someone like that? She’s going to find the diamond in the rough dude with chilling good looks and the whole package and never worry again? I can tell you this, especially since she brought up how men dress so many times, I know a ton of dudes who have that haircut above, who dress like bosses, who are educated, who treat women with respect, and are actually cool dudes. What the hell has she done to qualify anything from them, besides the sex they might want if she’s decent looking and the timing works out? These dudes are going to wife up women no one else can get. Why do average people look at people who are not in their league and not get it? This goes both ways (just listen to Jenna Marbles “Nice Guys Do Not Finish Last“), too fellas. Stop waiting for Gisele. She’s not showing up at TKE at Arizona State.

Lastly, take a look at this. What does it make you think of?

Sailor-kissing-Nurse-in-tim

If you answered something like “so romantic,” or “that’s true love,” or “that’s what I want” then you’re probably lying. Do you know the real story behind this? The dude (who actually just passed away this week, RIP) literally just came out of the subway and found the first girl he saw and kissed her. They didn’t date or get married or any of that. Just a moment.

I know for a coddamn fact, that if you were walking past the metro station on Hollywood BLVD during a parade and some dude jumped out of the subway, dipped, and kissed you, you’d shit a coddamn brick. First, you’d hope none of the other dudes you’re talking to saw you, then you’d get pissed off, then you’d tell your bestie about it and start with something like “OMG, I can’t. I just can’t. First I got a flat tire on Monday, and then the creepiest dude like literally comes out of the subway and tries to put his tongue down my throat. What is wrong with dudes today?”

I bring this up because, and this goes for both men and women, acting like they did in the old days gets you called creepy. And if the girl likes you, you get called a friend. If a dude likes you, he’ll think you’re clingy and avoid you (but still try to hit it of course). But we can’t all sit here and pretend that there aren’t people who have an idea like that of the above photo, so romantic and in the moment, and would love to share it with us. We all have that. Someone loves all of us, but we don’t want it. We want difficult. We want a challenge. We are all stupid.

Just acknowledge when you’re being stupid and stop blaming the times. You’ll find what you’re looking for, it just may take a while. You’ve got billions of options.

Tagged , , , ,

Not Impressed With My Birthday

“Today I can not sleep. You talking is all day.”

My teammates don’t really speak English, but this guy does. Well, at the every least I can understand him.

“Sorry man. I… On Skype… My friends… It’s my birthday,” I slowly said back to him in terms he could comprehend.

“You birthday? Happy Birthday!”

I hadn’t really mentioned it to anyone here or back home. That’s Facebook’s job, anyway. I went hard at both our practices in the humid arena in Ulsan, South Korea, and only mentioned the birthday as an apology. I was talking during my usual naptime, which I now know is also my neighboring teammates naptime. We live in dorms in Ulsan, so you can hear pretty much anything down the hallway, especially if that thing is as loud as I tend to be on the phone.

After dinner, I walked up to the third floor where my room is located, and had to shield my eyes from all the naked Koreans wandering the halls. I’ll never quite get that. I mean, honestly, when I was a kid, I would have bet that I would never see a naked Korean man with a huge bush sitting cross-legged enjoying a cigarette. I would have bet ANYTHING. Now I don’t even know a world where that doesn’t exist. My teammates enjoy being naked. I guess that’s life.

I got back to my room and flipped open my computer. I turned my iTunes onto “shuffle” mode and opened my email. As I went through the usual BOOMTHO! related emails, Five For Fighting’s song “100 Years” came on. WTF. It’s actually pretty sad to listen to if it’s your birthday and you’re not 15 years old. Honestly it was almost as emotional as drinking and Drake-ing, but I had no desire to call an ex in the end. I couldn’t really figure out why the song was getting to me, or why I didn’t care about my birthday, or why I generally haven’t been too impressed (think McKayla) with anything lately.

image

Not impressed. Not even a little.

 

I came up with a few quick answers when I thought about the question “why am I not hyped?”

1: I spend all my birthdays alone. Part of the Job requirement. I’ve had 2 birthdays in the company of friends since becoming a pro. I’m used to not being too hyped.

2: 29 is not a dope age. It’s not a bad age either, it’s just not dope as far as ages go. I feel like I basically turned 30, and NO 30 is not the new 20. Granted I party harder than most 20 year olds, but it’s more refined. There are few things in life more annoying than a 20 year old thought process, or a 20 year old party, or a 20 year old girl. 30 is more like the new 25. I can deal with 25. I remember my mom calling 20 year olds “kids” when she was like 35, and I would argue with her. Sorry mom. Those kids be trippin’.

 

image

“Do I look like 20 is awesome? Well, no. It’s not.” (I’m actually 18 here.)

3: Everything I do that’s awesome is now pretty par for the course. When I was 24 and came back from France with a boatload of money, it was awesome. At 30 a ton of people I know are making moves. It’s actually expected that I have some cash and can do grown man things. Gross. I mean cool. But I mean gross that I’m that age.

My buddy was complaining to me the other day that this girl he’s dating always wants to go to nice restaurants. He actually thinks she’s using him to go to nice dinners. Really? You’re 30 bro. Get it together. Your multiple “Hot-Dog-On-A-Stick” date days may be over, player. I know mine are.

Those were the easy answers. It had to be more than that. As it so happens, I was going through my old hard drive so I could put my old toomuchrodbenson.com (TMRB) posts back up on our new site teamboomtho.com. I read through a couple from around my birthday back in 2007. Holy balls. I used to be so different. I mean… I was the same, but I had so much hope! So many lofty goals! The NBA seemed like a crazy unattainable goal, but one that was just within my reach. It’s amazing to read my own words, thinking I haven’t changed a bit, but realizing that my spirit was so much stronger. I had goals that drove me to improve every aspect of my life. Absolutely bonkers, yo. Or Bananas? Or whatever. I was in NYC when I wrote them.

This ambition, coupled with a bit of naiivete, and a ton of stupidity led me to attain Sports Illustrated’s #1 athlete-blogger ranking. I don’t think they’ve even ranked em since then. I’m #1 for life, player. Bananas. Then a job with Yahoo!?

image

Bonkers?

Reading my old stuff (and having a couple conversations with close friends) made me realize that I’ve actually just reached all those goals. No, I’m not in the NBA, but aside from that I’m good. Since graduating – prepare for rampant self back-patting – I’ve managed to play 7 full professional seasons (and win 3 championships), 4 NBA summer Leagues, 2 NBA training camps, co-found Yahoo! Sports “Ball Don’t Lie” basketball blog, learn photography and Photoshop, learn cinematography and Final Cut, learn design and Illustrator, purchase my dream cars, and have more fun than anyone I know. That is exactly what’s depressing. I have no idea what’s next.

I realized that I may be living in my heyday RIGHT NOW. Andy Bernard, a character on “The Office,” says in the season finale: “I wish there was a way to know when you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them. Somebody should write a song about that.”

Oh, and there is a song about that:

 

Let me make it clear that this is NOT a bad thing. It’s an awesome thing to be in the middle of the most awesome time and realize it. But it feels like a summer fling. I feel it coming to a peaceful end that everybody saw coming, but that you wish could last another month. I don’t want to get it twisted, my basketball time is not almost over. I’m only 29, not 39, so I could play ball and live like this for 5, 7 more years? What I mean is that I won’t ever appreciate it more than I do now. This is the peak and it will be the same from here on out.

I realize that this may just be a universal feeling for basketball players playing overseas. You play somewhere for years and years, and eventually you’re just earning a paycheck. That was the goal all along, right? But where does the fire come from now? Was the journey always the destination? I don’t have a wife or kids to bring along, so it’s just me — nothing left to prove, putting money in the bank, chilling in the summer, and repeating like some sort of life shampoo. Constantly hitting the pause button on all the holidays, relationships, family time, California days, and everything in between. For the love of the game, indeed, but I realize how whiny I sound. You would never truly know what I meant unless you did it.

image

Buckets aint free.

I figure that if I want to improve on my best days I need a new goal. I need something to challenge myself going forward. It’s funny going from someone who always had “crazy potential” to being someone who basically maximized it, at least with respect to my youth. I loved being the “he’s only {insert age here] and he’s got so far to go,” guy. I need that feeling again, so that I can find some extra “good old days.” Maybe I should just make another run at the NBA. I know with 100% certainty that I am a worthy contributor to someone’s bench, but my feelings may be a bit biased. I know me REALLY well. The thing about the NBA is, no matter what, I would never be the best player. I would always have something to prove. The goals would be forever lofty, but every now and then, my reach would exceed my grasp.

 

Maybe I could try a different league. Maybe I learn piano or something. Maybe, I just suck it up and stop being whack on my birthday. I’m in the good old days, after all. I earned it. Maybe I’m the only guy playing overseas who thinks like this, but my feeling is that I’m not. I’ve known a lot of guys who can make a lot of money overseas who gave it up when they found something more important. Thing is, I currently don’t have anything more important than the “Mula,” as Big Sean would put it.

So, who knows what the future holds? I know one thing for sure. If these are the best days of my life, I’m going to keep enjoying the hell out of them. As the song I referenced earlier goes:

            It’s like all a sudden your life is so cool

‘Cause everything in it is working for you

Your friends and your family are getting along

It feels like when you hear your favorite song

Or when you know that you got money to spend

You never want that moment to end (repeat)

Stop complaining, Rod. You’ve got it good. 

Tagged , , , ,

Never Asking To See Photos of a Teammates Girlfriend Again

Anyone who’s ever been to Asia, knows that the mobile phone game out here is crazy. Literally every waking moment of every day, these people are looking at a screen, tapping that bad boy, and making something happen that us Americans don’t even know about. Well, I guess you can say we’re catching up a little. But generally, Asians do everything from watch live TV, to draw pictures of one another to upload on various sites or print out at little printing stations that exist in places like Bennigan’s for some odd reason. Tiny Korean girls lug around gigantic Samsung Note phones like they were iPod Nanos, doing God knows what all day long. It’s pretty awesome. 

image

“I wish I had more hands.”

As soon as we board our team bus after a game, on the way to a game, during a road trip, or even just to get food, the whole bus lights up with the screens of every one of my teammates phones as they begin to make moves. I never really bother them about what they have going on with their stuff, but they always seem to have an interest in what’s going on with mine. It’s my own fault. I have one of those gigantic Galaxy Note II phones, set to full brightness, usually watching a movie that they want to look at. If I’m not watching a movie, then I’m on Instagram. I’m going to have to assume that most of them have no clue what Instragam is, but they want it because when they see me on it. Our IG interactions usually goe something like this:

Because I, like most men, follow mostly hot girls on Instagram (I’m not apologetic), these guys will stop at my seat and look over and ask the following questions:

“Girlfriend?”

“Friend?”

“Sex partner?” (pronounced sechi patuna)

My answers are usually:

“No.”

“Yes.”

“Unfortunately, no.”

So one day, after they saw me going through my IG page, I felt compelled to lean over and see what some of them were looking at on their phones. One of them had a phat picture of some Korean girl as his screen saver. I thought it’d be funny to ask him the same questions. 

“Girlfriend?” I asked. 

“Yes. My girlfriend,” he replied quickly. 

I didn’t get to ask the rest. 

Since my poorly planned attempt at hazing was cut short, I asked if he had more pictures. He then proceeded to show me about 5 pictures of the two of them together. I jokingly gave him a loving gesture, then I asked him if he had any “hot” pictures. I didn’t expect to show me any, but I just wanted to make him uncomfortable. It worked. 

“No. No. No. Nooooo,” he said while shaking his head. 

Making him uncomfortable was fun, so I asked him a follow up:

“Naked photo?”

He understood, and shook his head even harder than the first time. It actually seemed like he was hiding something, so I decided to press on. Mind you, I didn’t actually want to see anything, I just wanted him to keep blushing because I was messing with him. I knew 100% without a doubt that he would NEVER show me (or anyone else) naked photos of his girlfriend, so I could continually ask him, knowing he would ju—

“Ok. Ok. One sec.”

Huh? I thought. No way. I don’t believe it. 

“No, no. Stop. You,” I was trying to communicate to him that I didn’t actually want to see his girl naked and that he had successfully called my bluff, “umm no. No photo!”

He tossed his phone into my lap. I closed my eyes, but he kept tapping me to look. 

When in Rome, right?

I squeaked open an eye and jumped back in my seat and threw the phone back at him. It was a fully naked picture. I was shocked. I was appalled. I was disgusted because it was a picture of my other teammate who was sitting right next to him!

“Fuck! What the fuck?” I knew he knew those words.

He was now laughing uncontrollably. He then proceeded to scroll through and try to get me to look at TONS of fully naked photos of ALL my Korean teammates. I would keep my eyes closed and wait for him to stop this stupid game, but upon opening them I would catch a full glimpse of D and B in the corner of my eye and shudder. It was at this point that like four other guys realized what was happening and proceeded to show me naked pictures of the first guy. There was just bush and hole everywhere around me. They had FULLY succeeded in turning the uncomfortable game around on me, and they were winning the shit out of it. How could they all have SO MANY pictures of each other? I had to get the translator involved. 

“Chris! Yo! You know that these dudes all have nude pictures of one another? WHAT THE HELL IS THAT ABOUT? Is one of these guys gay or something?”

My teammate also knows the word gay and responded before Chris could.

“No gay! No gay!”

“Chris, tell him I don’t care, but no straight man has fully naked pictures of 12 other men on their retina resolution phone. Nobody is supposed to have THAT much definition!”

Chris told him what I had said. It sounded something like: “Ro-du hypo eehud sjJSHj skjsdhdhs gay gay skhdsh gay gay photo hssuskjsh.”

“No! No! Gay djdhjks dhdus dsksaiuapopsomcnvas sjhb sdkjhih no gay kzldfspfsohfs photo qbajkkjiytwre pocm gay!!!” my teammate said defensively.

Chris turned back to me.

“He says that it’s just blackmail. They’re not gay, but if they catch each other without clothes on, they take a picture to use against one another later. They’re kinda doing it right now as they’re embarrassing each other by showing the photos to you.”

My mind was blown. I put my hands up. They had won. I made a resolution to ALWAYS be fully clothed around these dudes. I leaned to the side and did my best to go to take a nap and erase all that bush from my memory. It still hasn’t worked. 

Tagged , , ,

Makeup Is Not a Choice, Really.

Today I read a short rant about why men should stop telling women they don’t need makeup to look good. It was pretty interesting, and not what I expected. It was written by a woman who basically calls us men stupid for saying dumb shit like that: 

It’s not liberating to hear a man who has never had to live a day as a woman tell us that we’re silly bunnies who don’t know what we’re doing with that powder brush. And what’s more empowering than the pressure to look, without any effort at all, like the media-driven fantasy of “natural” beauty? After all, we all wake up in the morning with dewy perfect skin and naturally dramatic eyes, just like Zooey Deschanel (who wears fake eyelashes to get that natural look) or Kate Winslet (who I’ve never seen without mascara or her eyebrows drawn on).

So, in closing: You’ll pry my black eyeliner and red lipstick—makeup that undeniably looks like makeup—out of my cold, dead hands. I don’t a lways wear it, but regardless, I refuse to embrace the fantasy that women just roll out of bed looking this way. 

I guess I really agree with her, but I would take it a step further. It may be the a-hole thing to say, but really yes, women do need to wear makeup. As a man, am I saying this because I think women need to just conform to my personal ideals of beauty, while suppressing their own inner beauty with blah blah blah etc etc? No. That’s not what I mean at all, although I get the argument. The question that prompted the whole article was “If makeup has indeed become the status quo in the public realm, does it ultimately damage a woman’s self-esteem?”

Maybe it does. I’m not a woman, so I really can’t speak on that. If you are a woman and it does damage your self-esteem, then that sucks, and I’m sorry. But I don’t think it will change anything. The idea of makeup, its necessity, and the self esteem problem are all kind of bigger than the question really alludes to. I think there are three main things to consider here:

1. Makeup is a not really a choice, anyway. 

I mean yes, you can choose to wear it or not wear it, but there is a cost. And no, it’s not “men will think I’m less attractive.That may be a cost to certain people, but most women aren’t spending every moment of their life hoping their makeup finds them a husband. Married women wear makeup just the same. I’m sure their husbands will be the first people to say: “In my opinion, my wife looks great in the morning.” She better, bro. And of course she does, because he married her. To him, she is the best. So why would she still wear makeup daily? 

image

“I totally knew I was going to have my picture taken today. This is my ‘give-a-shit’ face.”

Because she has to or else people will assume she just  doesn’t care. Other women will assume she doesn’t give a shit about how she looks. Even the husband will ask her: “Umm, honey? You not going to work today?” A woman can be just fine at the laundromat, or some other sort of situation where likability is not at risk, but in other situations it’s just a sign that you care. Maybe that does suck, and yes you can chose to go to work, or to the PTA meeting, or to a first date without makeup, but in most non-hipster circles, people (who may still want to have sex with you) will just assume you’re indifferent. Yes it has to do with TV and whatnot and models and perception, but it’s true. But don’t think it’s just you..

2. Makeup is not the only thing this logic applies to. 

As a guy there are things this applies to as well. I can choose not to wear deodorant. I can choose to grow a fat beard, wear a T shirt to a business meeting, etc. I choose to shave, dress well, and shower not because I have to, but because people generally enjoy me more when I do. And honestly if someone loved me they may not care about the fat beard or how I dress thing (aside from the first date), heck when I was in France I realized that some women appreciate a musk as well. Thing is, if I choose not to present myself a certain way, people will assume my indifference. You’ve seen it in every movie where the goofy guy has a bad breakup. How is he presented to show that he’s generally given up? A fat beard and a tee shirt. 

image

“Now I have the freshest cereal.”

Granted, a shower and a shave may seem fundamental, but they sow signs that we’re ready to go out and be productive members of society. A guy isn’t going today a job interview with an un-groomed beard and a T, and a woman isn’t going in for one in “Juicy” sweats and no makeup. But since we need to present ourselves we do it. That, and…

3. We really do look better. 

I look better when I do the male version of a “doll up.” Women are the same way and makeup is a part of that. I think the real issue here is that we men have convinced you women that makeup is bad, but we still respond to it. It’s our fault, really. I can’t tell you how often I see dudes post statuses and tweets saying something to the effect of “why wear so much makeup? stay natural,” or “I need a girl who looks good without makeup.” 

What coddamn crap.

image

“I look great, and I just woke up. And had sex. And I was drunk last night.”

The reality is, the makeup artists who work on the people we see on TV, movies, and ads are really fucking good. They can make a girl appear to be wearing no makeup. There are like 85 scenes of Lake Bell waking up in “How To Make It In America” looking great, even after a night of drinking, and they’re all a lie that we men have yet to figure out. The makeup is just THAT good. Any woman who can pull off the natural look is one we men love, even without saying it. We want to believe you have nothing on, or at least not even notice it without trying, so we can just assume “damn, she’s just that hot.”

The problem is, that’s not easy to pull off on a daily basis, standing in front of a vanity with a little kit. It’s certainly not easy when waking up late for work, trying to apply mascara during red lights on the way to work. So we sit here and look at some women and say: “Gross. Makeup sucks.” Then turn around and hit on a girl who is better at it, or had the time to trick our dumb asses into believing that nothing’s there. 

Anyway, that was just my two cents. I know it’s a touchy subject, but I guess the point is you’ll never hear me tell a girl to stop wearing makeup… Unless she looks like this:

 image

Tagged , ,

Never Going To Malibu Again

What can’t I say about Malibu? It’s a pretty cool place where I can pay $2 more per gallon for gas and buy organic groceries whilst Reggie Miller pedals by dressed like he’s part of the Postal Service cycling team. It’s a place where the desire to drive 100 mph down PCH is never acted upon due to traffic, lights, or police who are just hoping you’re Mel Gibson driving drunk and ready to rant. Malibu is a place that you see on every movie about California and assume LA people kick it there all the time, but in fact we never do because it’s like an hour away from everything. 

I just happened to be in Malibu one day last spring. Well, I guess I didn’t just happen to be there as much as I had planned to be there. It was something like my first or second day back in the U.S. after returning from my second season in Korea. I had been talking to a girl who lived in Malibu, and I promised I would visit when I got back. So night one was spent in San Diego grabbing my car, my homie John, and my brother. The next day we drove the 2.5 hours up to Malibu, for what was going to be an awesome day of day-drinking and beach time. It also just so happened to be Easter Sunday.

We brought all of our mascots and a couple handles of Ketel One, ready to get in the first Sunday Funday of the season. We arrived at “Marsha’s” house around 1pm and unloaded the goods (yes, I changed her name, cause this story gets weird). Neither she nor her roommates were quite ready for the hype we brought to the table. I think they may have just been waking up from a hard Saturday night, so when we arrived everyone except her was taken by surprise. But it was cool because they quickly got ready, and joined us in the kitchen for the festivities. 

image

My brother terrorizing Malibu on Easter Sunday. 

Within an hour, one of the handles was gone and things were getting pretty lively out there. More people showed up (all friends with her) and it kinda turned into a sunny, well lit, afternoon bonanza. The second bottle was gone soon after, so it was time to make moves. A couple of Marsha’s friends took off, so now it was just me, John, Chris (my brother), Marsha, and three of Marsha’s friends. It was at this point that John had a brilliant idea.

“I know someone having an Easter party right now. It’s my family friend ‘Jennifer.’ She lives in a dope house right on the water. We can roll over there for a bit and party on the beach,” he drunkenly announced.

“I mean,” I started, “are you sure it’s cool for all of us? We’re kinda deep right now, and I know it will be a little weird if a bunch of black people show up drunk to Jennifer’s doorstep on Easter.”

“I’ll call her and check,” he confirmed. 

A few minutes later he got the news that it would be all good, so we rounded up the troops and piled into different cars. My brother was the DD for one car and Marsha’s friend drove the other as we headed down PCH. It was at this point, while riding down PCH with Avicii blaring full blast, that I realized that this girl really liked me. I mean really. I wasn’t really sure how I felt (and I had mentioned this), because I had been in Korea where loneliness can cloud ones vision. So I guess I would have a decision to make soon. Now was not the time, though. 

We arrived at our location, but parking was a B, so we had to park kinda far down PCH, which was annoying because half of us had to get to a bathroom ASAP. We kinda rushed out of the car, and walked down an unnaturally long hill towards the street. The girls ran ahead of me, looking for a bathroom in one of the restaurants on the street. I knew the house was close, so I didn’t bother trying to rush into a local business. This move paid off, as every coddamn place was closed. Easter Sunday… We had all forgotten it was a holiday. 

Now the girls were frantic. I assured them that all we had to do was cross the street and we’d be there. John had run ahead during the bathroom search, so I told them we’d just catch up and walk in and it’d be all good. John was even flagging us down from across the street as if we couldn’t plainly see him. We sprinted across PCH and into the parking area for the complex. John had posted up out there so he could smoke. I don’t smoke, so I was kind of annoyed. 

“John, I told you before that none of us really know Jennifer. These girls gotta get into the bathroom. Come walk us in, asshole,” I pleaded. 

“Dude,” John started the way he always does when a bad idea is about to follow,”just go up there,” he was trying to talk while exhaling, “and knock. She knows we’re coming, bro.”

The girls were literally jumping around now, so there was no time to reason. I turned to them and led them towards the front door of the super awesome beachside unit. They were actually running ahead of me, asking me which door was the right one. 

“It’s the third from the end! Ring the doorbell. She knows we’re here.” I yelled while playing catch-up. 

I still didn’t at all feel comfortable with this, considering Jennifer had never met most of us and John was nowhere in sight from the door. But the situation was getting worse, so I had to put my perfect manners aside for a minute and just believe John that it would be all good. 

Marsha rang the doorbell and I stepped up right in front of her so that I’d be the first seen when Jennifer opened the door. It was one of those doors with small, crystalized glass windows built into it so that I could see the silhouette of a person walking up. The silhouette was about 15 feet away. Ten. Eight. 

I felt some raindrops on my foot. Weird. Wait? Raindrops?

I turned around and literally jumped eight feet backwards. Marsha was violently pissing herself. I didn’t even have time to process it when the door swung open. I was now out of view since my initial reaction was to jump far out of the way. Jennifer opened the door to see Marsha standing there uncontrollably shooting urine through her jean shorts. It was like a yellow rain of a thousand lemon Gatorades. The moment was hardly half a second in, when my brain clicked back on just in time for me to yell “oh, shit!”

Right then, before any other words were uttered (literally a second had passed), one of Marsha’s friends yells “hose her!” and the other one, who has commandeered a hose faster than what I previously assumed was humanly possible, begins spraying Marsha down at the same time she’s pissing and the same time Jennifer (who is about 40-something and knows none of these people) steps onto the porch. Looking back, my next move was not one of my finer moments, but I was in a panic. I took off running. 

I ran without thinking or looking back. I didn’t even get to see Jennifer’s reaction. I’m pretty sure she never even saw me there. My leg was wet, my brain was spinning, and I needed to find John. Luckily, he was still outside in the parking area, smoking. 

“John. Holy shit. John. It’s over. We have to go!”

John was obviously a little slow to react. 

“What? Slow down, man. What you talking about?” He didn’t seem very concerned. 

“It doesn’t matter. We really have to go. The party’s over,” I babbled. I couldn’t even get the words out.

“Dude. What the fuck, man? What the hell are you talking about?”

“Marsha just pissed all over Jennifer’s porch. Like through her pants. Like we have to go RIGHT now.”

John finally looked concerned. I don’t even remember what he said after. I just know we went back to the house and everyone was inside except my brother, who was uncontrollably laughing. I had forgotten that he had been there the whole time. John went in to inspect the damage. I stood on the soaked porch with my brother, just shocked at what at just happened. I just kept wondering how that even happened? Why did I run? Where the hell did that coddamn hose come from? Oh shit why did I run?

John came outside after a few minutes and told us we could come inside, but not for long. So we followed him inside to the sight of a very classy Easter Sunday dinner, that was just about to be served. This was certainly NOT a party. Fuck John, was my first thought. My second thought was why did I run? Dammit. Marsha was upstairs with Jennifer’s daughter, presumably still wetting herself, with a hose nearby, so I took a seat (instead of running this time). 

Jennifer came over awkwardly and tried her best to be nice. I guess this whole dinner was also a blind date for her. That guy is a son of a General or something. Great. I had to get out of there, and it wasn’t like we were going to be allowed to stay much longer. So all of us except Marsha and Jennifer’s daughter hit the beach for what must have been the most miserable (and sobering) half hour of beach time ever. 

“She really liked you and is scared she ruined everything,” one of the friends told me. 

I tried to convince myself that this wasn’t true. But it basically was. I saw her once more after that day and, sadly, all I could picture was an upside down open gallon of Country Time lemonade, then a hose, then the running. Why did I run? It was essentially over before it began. 

As for Jennifer, I was later informed that it would be ok if I came back and had dinner over at her place, but I don’t think I ever will. I can’t show my face. I’ll be forever embarrassed and all that really happened to me was a little piss got on my leg. Still, I may never go to Malibu again. The whole town just smells like urine to me now.

There isn’t even a moral to the story. I guess if I had to choose one, it would be don’t run from the porch of a nice lady who cooked Easter Sunday dinner for her blind date while a girl you like pisses all over the porch in front of the nice lady while your friend smokes, your brother laughs, and her friend hoses her down. I think that’s it. 

Tagged , , ,

The Stay At Home Dad

I had been thinking about writing on this topic for a while, but I felt the time finally came when an article titled “Hardwired to Disappoint? The Crushingly Low Expectations of Men” came flowing down my Facebook news feed. As I read along, I found myself generally agreeing with most of what was said. I will say that it did take an odd turn towards the end when the author started comparing mans ability to curb rape habits to mans ability to be “exciting, reliable, and emotionally aware life companions.”

The author was trying to make a larger point that women are changing and becoming more dynamic creatures while men, ever content with our own primal tendencies, refuse to be much more than ape-people, “hardwired to be emotionally obtuse, needy, and disappointing.”

 

I found that to be a bit hyperbolic. I mean I guess this is what I get for reading an article on Jezebel. Still, I think this article itself confounds the problem it’s meaning to confront. What good is it to ask men to be better creatures via a blog whose reader base is 95% women? What the author is actually doing is reminding women that men need to get better or women can be done with them.

“If we want to get past this maddening dichotomy between romantic happiness and professional success, we need to do more than teach young women emotional self-defense. We need men to change.”

I don’t bring this up to show spark up this debate again about confused women in today’s dating atmosphere, or even to attack the article. I bring this up because of a recent conversation I had with some of my best, most career driven, intelligent, and successful female friends. I suggested something that made them both get the DeAndre Jordan thizz face and burst into laughter. I suggested that I could see myself being a stay at home dad.

“A Stay At Home What?”

Let’s take this story back a bit, shall we? It was the summer of 2009 and I had just met this dude named John. Today John is one of my best friends (check my youtube for evidence), but back when I first met him, I asked him what he did and what school he went to, etc. He said he used to play pro hockey, but his dream was to be a stay at home dad. We all laughed as he explained that he would just really like a sugar momma to take care of him so he never had to work again. He was clearly joking, but the idea stuck with me a bit. I wondered why it was so funny, really? It wasn’t funny when women said things like that. I was now intrigued with this notion.

Fast forward. I’m on this Google Hangout (basically Skype for cool people) with my homegirls Renee who is in the top 5 in her class at Boalt Law School, at Berkeley, and Kristina who is a Sr. healthcare consultant, working on policy analysis and program design for CA’s new health insurance enrolment programs. To sum them up: bosses.

So I’m on this Hangout and somehow the stay at home dad thing comes up. I think I brought it up. I don’t remember. I had already told Kristina about it before, so I think she was silent because she wanted to see Renee’s face and hear her out so they could both laugh at me. That’s exactly what happened. Renee accused me of joking, and BSing, and generally just being me. She also accused me of not acknowledging how tough it is to be a stay at home parent. I explained that someone in my position who has the ability to work from home (writing, photography/film and editing, etc.) could potentially make the choice to stay at home, and that could be cool. Also, raising a family isn’t easy on anyone, and yes it would be taxing, but does that mean I’m not equipped? I did add some jokes in there about how if my kids were boys we’d go around putting Mentos into Pepsi’s, and causing a ruckus like “Where The Wild Things Are,” but overall I was trying to make a point and I think it fell on deaf ears.

I know the reason, and the Jezebel article kind of touched on it, but fell short on specifics. Women are attracted to powerful men, successful men, motivated men, and intelligent men. Women want someone who they feel is at least their equal. The idea that a man would want to stay at home would be a turn off for her first and foremost, and secondly for her friends and family who would show her no mercy for choosing such a “loser.” I understand that. The idea of financially supporting some guy who is at your house all day seems odd.

It’s no secret that the modern career driven woman is put in a tough position of not only choosing between family and career, but even just finding the time to have a serious relationship and still climb the ladder. By writing off a man who would potentially support those goals, she eliminates a potential solution to the problem.

“Say that on a first date,” Renee suggested at one point while I was explaining my rationale, “and good luck.”

She rolled her eyes, but she’s the perfect example of the modern woman who I’m sure would never sacrifice her career for a family. In fact she’s said before that she’s unsure if she even wants children (I presume because her aspirations won’t allow it). But she also wants a man who does all the traditional courtship hoopla. She wants dudes to be at least as successful as she is, as motivated, to pay on the first date, to make the first move, etc. To put it plainly, she’s the least “traditional” woman I know, yet expects more “tradition” than most. She’s creating her own conflict because she may be truly happy with someone who may not be as career driven, but would support a family and her goals. That man won’t get past step one of her criteria.

So the article suggests that in order to support women like her, men need to change. I contend that men have changed. Well, at the very least, we’re beginning to change. While we haven’t come full circle, were hiring female CEOs, casting women as bosses and breadwinners in TV shows, accepting two income households, and some of us even think we could be decent stay at home dads. For realzies.

No I’m not saying it’s been without the work and determination of many women who have fought to inspire us to change. I’m saying men created so many social and economic blocks that really it’s on us to continue to remove them and truly make the sky the limit for our women. It’s happening either way as more women are put into the positions that make those decisions and propose those laws.

So, in my very bold opinion, women are the ones who are having a tougher time changing. Why can’t I be a stay at home dad, then, if a woman should expect me to be content with her earning more? For so long men didn’t expect anything out of women but to raise a family. Why then can’t this be reversed? If a man isn’t hardwired to be primal rapists who try to impregnate everything moving and move on to the next, only staying long enough to hunt and protect, then why are we consumed with the converse idea that men are 100% hardwired to be unable to run a household, take care of children, etc?  Why is it always the woman’s burden to choose between work and family? Besides the movie “Love and Basketball” (spoiler alert – but really if you haven’t seen it by now you never will) where Omar Epps retires from the NBA and raises the baby girl which allows Sanaa Lathan to join the WNBA, I have personally never seen a movie or TV about a straight, married, stay at home dad that wasn’t a comedy. Well guess what? That situation needs to be much less laughable if women are to continue to rise to positions of prominence.

Men can’t be criticized or thought of as losers if some just want to be a trophy husband who loves his wife and raises her children. Trophy wives were cool for all of eternity before a generation or two ago. So I say, if both parties are cool with it, there’s no reason a dude cant be on some successful woman’s mantle. There are TONS of services that place women with wealthy males, so I assume there will soon be similar services in reverse. Just let it happen, girls. It’s what you wanted.

Tagged ,