Why I Broke Up With Uber

It was the summer of 2013 and I was fresh off my first championship in Korea. I decided to move into Hollywood this time instead of my previous residence in downtown LA. With the move came new scenery, new friends, and eventually, a new love.

As with most new relationships, we met one night through a friend. “I gotta introduce you to Uber,” he said. Much like the sneaky dater I am, I proceeded to online stalk Uber until I had all the information I needed. It looked perfect. Uber was always available, more fun than the rest, and a cheap date, too. I got with Uber that night and off we were.

Uber didn’t care that I got drunk. Uber never left me stranded. Uber was what I had always been waiting for but never knew I needed. I was happy. We were happy. I figured it would last forever. Two years later here I am… Unhappy.

All jokes aside, I ride in Uber vehicles nearly every day. Most days it’s twice. I know a great deal about the app, the pricing, and the changes that have come along the way. That said, it goes without question that Uber’s “surge” pricing has become more and more prevalent. It would seem that every time the price of Uber drops, the rate at which that price is “surged” rises. Lately, nearly every time I call for an uber I have to hit the “2” “.” “0” before I can accept my ride.

But that’s not really the reason I’m over Uber. I mean, I was still into them even after surge pricing jacked the price of my Uber at Coachella last summer to a nice $406 for a ride that was 15 minutes in total.

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I was even still into them when I read that they surge priced people attempting to flee a gunman in Sydney last year.

I officially broke up with Uber when I realized why surge pricing happens so often in my area. Let me preface this by saying it’s only a hypothesis, but one that has been proven true time and again. So maybe there’s an Uber official who will let me know if I’m wrong, although I doubt it.

So here’s the deal: Uber drivers in my area are manipulating the surge pricing themselves. Let me explain. When I first moved into my building, I loved that I could turn on the Uber app and see 50 cars within a few hundred feet. My wait time was never more than one minute, and life was good. Then Uber dropped their prices and I began to see less and less cars. I figured it had something to do with drivers quitting the job because they were getting paid less. But nowadays if I open the app there maybe a single Uber X car available, if any. The wait times listed are between six and ten minutes, but then surge pricing kicks in and voila! 50 cars available once again!

I figured out that the drivers know that if there are no available drivers in the area, the surge pricing kicks in right away. So all they have to do is go offline, use their personal cell phone to open the app to make sure that other drivers are all offline too, then simply wait for a text saying surge pricing is on. At that point they go right back online and drive.

There are a few things that made this clearer to me. First of all, nearly every Uber driver in my area is Armenian. I have no clue why, exactly, but they are. 35-55 year old Armenian born men make up 95% of the drivers I get (funny side note: they always call it Hollyvood and Wine). I assume that they started communicating with one another about how to coordinate the surge pricing simply because I’m sure it’s a close community. A new driver comes to Uber via word of mouth, then is told how to work the system right away. Boom. Secondly, when I do get a non-Armenian driver AND it’s also not surge pricing, it’s someone super far away. The person will start heading my way, then cancel. It happens A LOT. I assume this is because as they get closer to my area, they get a text that says Surge pricing is on, and they cancel and pick up rides in my area, never knowing that it’s because the local Armenians have coordinated the whole thing. Lastly, some guys don’t even cancel when they figure out surge pricing is on, they just drive the complete wrong way. They do this so that eventually I HAVE TO CANCEL, meaning they can still charge me without ever having to pick me up and I can’t rate them.

Ok, so that may have been confusing. I’ll tell you what happened yesterday, specifically. My homegirl was at my crib and was ready to leave so she opened the app. She was surprised to see a 1.7x surge price. She asked if she should wait, and I told her no, citing the things I’m telling you now. So she accepted the surge and her ride was here in seconds (no surprise). As she was heading for the door, she got a confused look on her face. I asked her what the problem was and she said her driver had to cancel. So she opens the app again and bam! 3.5x surge. EVEN MORE CARS ARE NOW AVAILABLE TO DRIVE IMMEDIATELY. Clearly they were waiting until the perfect moment.

This is why I’ve switched to Lyft for the time being. I can’t say it’s better, because I don’t know. I’m only really switching to see if the Armenian mafia thing holds any weight. Lyft drivers are almost always young people raised locally. I don’t know why. I do know that Armenian or not, the drivers know what they’re doing and so do I. I’m leaving Uber. I got Lyft as my main, and Sidecar as my side chick. We’ll see how it goes.

Ewwwww (video)

My coach gave me 4 days off and I was going to take a short trip to Macau. I changed my mind at the last minute and decided to stay in Seoul with my brother. After taking down a bottle of vodka, we decided to nail a green bed sheet to the roof and get loose on camera.

The song was recorded in fall 2012, and when my brother heard it for the first time last week, he asked why we didn’t have a video. I nodded, took a shot, ate a pack of gummy bears, and told him it was time to get to work. Enjoy.

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.

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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:

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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?

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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.

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Muthaf&^$in Christmas Time 2

Boomtho terrorizes Koreans. Too easy.

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Chicken Soup For The Player

What happens when guys do too much at the bar?

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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.

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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’.

 

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“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!?

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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.

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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. 

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SwagBomb (video)

The new music video from #teamboomtho. It could be the best one yet! Filmed between Hollywood, Tokyo, and Seoul and features a few of our BOOMTHO girls! Check it out!

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I don’t know if ya’ll are ready for this pillow fight with our BOOMTHO! Girl of the Day! Grab your gear and prepare for this battle today!

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