Tag Archives: words

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 , , ,

Graphs Help Me Understand

I figured I’d first show the graph I came up with, then explain. Here we go.

image

image

This is inspired by Big Sean’s verse on Drake’s song entitled “All Me.” His line goes: 

Not complicated, it’s simple, I got sexy ladies, a whole Benz-full

And to them hoes I’m everything — everything but gentle


I immediately took issue with this line. In my experience a sexier Benz gets a sexier lady. I mean, really like a Maserati is a better choice, but the sexiest of Benzes are two seaters. So a “Benz full” in an SLS AMG is one sexy lady. That’s if she’s THAT sexy. We can stuff 7 ladies who like minivans into a R300. But that’s not what we want is it. Big Sean just needs to see a graph. 

Next:

image

This is inspired by Justin Timberlake’s hook in Jay-Z’s song, “Holy Grail.”

Justin sings: Sippin’ from your cup til it runeth over, Holy Grail


It could just be me, but when I sipeth from my cupeth, that shit goes empty. Justin has a magical cup that only runeths when he sipeths and thus I protesteth to the malarketh of his senteths. Peep the Graph, Justin.

Last one for today:

image

I came across back to back Instagram profiles the other day that were polar opposites. One was of a girl who’s photos all included her friends. They all looked alike, and it became tough to figure out which one was actually in charge of the coddamn profile. Eventually I just gave up. 8 photos in and I literally had no clue. 

Conversely, I the next profile I came across was ALL selfies. I don’t think I’ve ever seen another profile like this. 18 photos. 18 selfies. It was quite off putting. 

I made this graph for the ladies to show the epiphany I had that day. If you want men to be about your Instagram profile, have some selfies. Too few or too many, and you’ve lost us. Also, I really wanted to make a bell curve. 

Got something you want me to graph? F it, I’m bored. Lemme know. 

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 ,

“The Secret Meeting that Changed Rap Music and Destroyed a Generation”

Via Hip Hop Is Read: “The Secret Meeting that Changed Rap Music and Destroyed a Generation”

This anonymous letter landed in my inbox about a minute ago:

Hello,

After more than 20 years, I’ve finally decided to tell the world what I witnessed in 1991, which I believe was one of the biggest turning point in popular music, and ultimately American society. I have struggled for a long time weighing the pros and cons of making this story public as I was reluctant to implicate the individuals who were present that day. So I’ve simply decided to leave out names and all the details that may risk my personal well being and that of those who were, like me, dragged into something they weren’t ready for.

Between the late 80’s and early 90’s, I was what you may call a “decision maker” with one of the more established company in the music industry. I came from Europe in the early 80’s and quickly established myself in the business. The industry was different back then. Since technology and media weren’t accessible to people like they are today, the industry had more control over the public and had the means to influence them anyway it wanted. This may explain why in early 1991, I was invited to attend a closed door meeting with a small group of music business insiders to discuss rap music’s new direction. Little did I know that we would be asked to participate in one of the most unethical and destructive business practice I’ve ever seen.

The meeting was held at a private residence on the outskirts of Los Angeles. I remember about 25 to 30 people being there, most of them familiar faces. Speaking to those I knew, we joked about the theme of the meeting as many of us did not care for rap music and failed to see the purpose of being invited to a private gathering to discuss its future. Among the attendees was a small group of unfamiliar faces who stayed to themselves and made no attempt to socialize beyond their circle. Based on their behavior and formal appearances, they didn’t seem to be in our industry. Our casual chatter was interrupted when we were asked to sign a confidentiality agreement preventing us from publicly discussing the information presented during the meeting. Needless to say, this intrigued and in some cases disturbed many of us. The agreement was only a page long but very clear on the matter and consequences which stated that violating the terms would result in job termination. We asked several people what this meeting was about and the reason for such secrecy but couldn’t find anyone who had answers for us. A few people refused to sign and walked out. No one stopped them. I was tempted to follow but curiosity got the best of me. A man who was part of the “unfamiliar” group collected the agreements from us.

Quickly after the meeting began, one of my industry colleagues (who shall remain nameless like everyone else) thanked us for attending. He then gave the floor to a man who only introduced himself by first name and gave no further details about his personal background. I think he was the owner of the residence but it was never confirmed. He briefly praised all of us for the success we had achieved in our industry and congratulated us for being selected as part of this small group of “decision makers”. At this point I begin to feel slightly uncomfortable at the strangeness of this gathering. The subject quickly changed as the speaker went on to tell us that the respective companies we represented had invested in a very profitable industry which could become even more rewarding with our active involvement. He explained that the companies we work for had invested millions into the building of privately owned prisons and that our positions of influence in the music industry would actually impact the profitability of these investments. I remember many of us in the group immediately looking at each other in confusion. At the time, I didn’t know what a private prison was but I wasn’t the only one. Sure enough, someone asked what these prisons were and what any of this had to do with us. We were told that these prisons were built by privately owned companies who received funding from the government based on the number of inmates. The more inmates, the more money the government would pay these prisons. It was also made clear to us that since these prisons are privately owned, as they become publicly traded, we’d be able to buy shares. Most of us were taken back by this. Again, a couple of people asked what this had to do with us. At this point, my industry colleague who had first opened the meeting took the floor again and answered our questions. He told us that since our employers had become silent investors in this prison business, it was now in their interest to make sure that these prisons remained filled. Our job would be to help make this happen by marketing music which promotes criminal behavior, rap being the music of choice. He assured us that this would be a great situation for us because rap music was becoming an increasingly profitable market for our companies, and as employee, we’d also be able to buy personal stocks in these prisons. Immediately, silence came over the room. You could have heard a pin drop. I remember looking around to make sure I wasn’t dreaming and saw half of the people with dropped jaws. My daze was interrupted when someone shouted, “Is this a f****** joke?” At this point things became chaotic. Two of the men who were part of the “unfamiliar” group grabbed the man who shouted out and attempted to remove him from the house. A few of us, myself included, tried to intervene. One of them pulled out a gun and we all backed off. They separated us from the crowd and all four of us were escorted outside. My industry colleague who had opened the meeting earlier hurried out to meet us and reminded us that we had signed agreement and would suffer the consequences of speaking about this publicly or even with those who attended the meeting. I asked him why he was involved with something this corrupt and he replied that it was bigger than the music business and nothing we’d want to challenge without risking consequences. We all protested and as he walked back into the house I remember word for word the last thing he said, “It’s out of my hands now. Remember you signed an agreement.” He then closed the door behind him. The men rushed us to our cars and actually watched until we drove off.

A million things were going through my mind as I drove away and I eventually decided to pull over and park on a side street in order to collect my thoughts. I replayed everything in my mind repeatedly and it all seemed very surreal to me. I was angry with myself for not having taken a more active role in questioning what had been presented to us. I’d like to believe the shock of it all is what suspended my better nature. After what seemed like an eternity, I was able to calm myself enough to make it home. I didn’t talk or call anyone that night. The next day back at the office, I was visibly out of it but blamed it on being under the weather. No one else in my department had been invited to the meeting and I felt a sense of guilt for not being able to share what I had witnessed. I thought about contacting the 3 others who wear kicked out of the house but I didn’t remember their names and thought that tracking them down would probably bring unwanted attention. I considered speaking out publicly at the risk of losing my job but I realized I’d probably be jeopardizing more than my job and I wasn’t willing to risk anything happening to my family. I thought about those men with guns and wondered who they were? I had been told that this was bigger than the music business and all I could do was let my imagination run free. There were no answers and no one to talk to. I tried to do a little bit of research on private prisons but didn’t uncover anything about the music business’ involvement. However, the information I did find confirmed how dangerous this prison business really was. Days turned into weeks and weeks into months. Eventually, it was as if the meeting had never taken place. It all seemed surreal. I became more reclusive and stopped going to any industry events unless professionally obligated to do so. On two occasions, I found myself attending the same function as my former colleague. Both times, our eyes met but nothing more was exchanged. 

As the months passed, rap music had definitely changed direction. I was never a fan of it but even I could tell the difference. Rap acts that talked about politics or harmless fun were quickly fading away as gangster rap started dominating the airwaves. Only a few months had passed since the meeting but I suspect that the ideas presented that day had been successfully implemented. It was as if the order has been given to all major label executives. The music was climbing the charts and most companies when more than happy to capitalize on it. Each one was churning out their very own gangster rap acts on an assembly line. Everyone bought into it, consumers included. Violence and drug use became a central theme in most rap music. I spoke to a few of my peers in the industry to get their opinions on the new trend but was told repeatedly that it was all about supply and demand. Sadly many of them even expressed that the music reinforced their prejudice of minorities.

I officially quit the music business in 1993 but my heart had already left months before. I broke ties with the majority of my peers and removed myself from this thing I had once loved. I took some time off, returned to Europe for a few years, settled out of state, and lived a “quiet” life away from the world of entertainment. As the years passed, I managed to keep my secret, fearful of sharing it with the wrong person but also a little ashamed of not having had the balls to blow the whistle. But as rap got worse, my guilt grew. Fortunately, in the late 90’s, having the internet as a resource which wasn’t at my disposal in the early days made it easier for me to investigate what is now labeled the prison industrial complex. Now that I have a greater understanding of how private prisons operate, things make much more sense than they ever have. I see how the criminalization of rap music played a big part in promoting racial stereotypes and misguided so many impressionable young minds into adopting these glorified criminal behaviors which often lead to incarceration. Twenty years of guilt is a heavy load to carry but the least I can do now is to share my story, hoping that fans of rap music realize how they’ve been used for the past 2 decades. Although I plan on remaining anonymous for obvious reasons, my goal now is to get this information out to as many people as possible. Please help me spread the word. Hopefully, others who attended the meeting back in 1991 will be inspired by this and tell their own stories. Most importantly, if only one life has been touched by my story, I pray it makes the weight of my guilt a little more tolerable.

Thank you.

Tagged

Every Human Should Read and be Inspired

Do not bake bread in an oven that is not made of stone
Or you risk having imperfect bread. Byron wrote,
“The greatest pleasure in life is drinking hock
And soda water the morning after, when one has
A hangover,” or words to that effect. It is a
Pleasure, for me, of the past. I do not drink so much
Any more. And when I do, I am not in sufficiently good
Shape to enjoy the hock and seltzer in the morning.
I am envious of this pleasure as I think of it. Do not
You be envious. In fact I cannot tell envy
From wish and desire and sharing imperfectly
What others have got and not got. But envy is a good word
To use, as hate is, and lust, because they make their point
In the worst and most direct way, so that as a
Result one is able to deal with them and go on one’s way.
I read Don Juan twenty years ago, and six years later
I wrote a poem in emulation of it. I began
Searching for another stanza but gave in
To the ottava rima after a while, after I’d tried
Some practice stanzas in it; it worked so well
It was too late to stop, it seemed to me. Do not
Be in too much of a hurry to emulate what
You admire. Sometimes it may take a number of years
Before you are ready, but there it is, building
Inside you, a constructing egg. Low-slung
Buildings are sometimes dangerous to walk in and
Out of. A building should be at least one foot and a half
Above one’s height, so that if one leaps
In surprise or joy or fear, one’s head will not be injured.
Very high ceilings such as those in Gothic
Churches are excellent for giving a spiritual feeling.
Low roofs make one feel like a mole in general. But
Smallish rooms can be cosy. Many tiny people
In a little room make an amusing sight. Large
Persons, both male and female, are best seen out of doors.
Ships sided against a canal’s side may be touched and
Patted, but sleeping animals should not be, for
They may bite, in anger and surprise. Of all animals
The duck is seventeenth lowliest, the eagle not as high
On the list as one would imagine, rating
Only ninety-fifth. The elephant is either two or four
Depending on the author of the list, and the tiger
Is seven. The lion is three or six. Blue is the
Favorite color of many people because the sky
Is blue and the sea is blue and many people’s eyes
Are blue, but blue is not popular in those countries
Where it is the color of mold. In Spain blue
Symbolizes cowardice. In America it symbolizes “Americanness.”
The racial mixture in North America should
Not be misunderstood. The English came here first,
And the Irish and the Germans and the Dutch. There were
Some French here also. The Russians, the Jews, and
The Blacks came afterwards. The women are only coming now
To a new kind of prominence in America, where “Liberation”
Is their byword. Giraffes, which people ordinarily
Associate with Africa, can be seen in many urban zoos
All over the world. They are an adaptable animal,
As Greek culture was an adaptable culture. Rome
Spread it all over the world. You should know,
Before it did, Alexander spread it as well. Read
As many books as you can without reading interfering
With your time for living. Boxing was formerly illegal
In England, and also, I believe, in America. If
You feel a law is unjust, you may work to change it.
It is not true, as many people say, that
That is just the way things are. Or, Those are the rules,
Immutably. The rules can be changed, although
It may be a slow process. When decorating a window, you
Should try to catch the eye of the passerby, then
Hold it; he’or she should become constantly more
Absorbed in what is being seen. Stuffed animal toys should be
Fluffy and a pleasure to hold in the hands. They
Should not be too resistant, nor should they be made
With any poisonous materials. Be careful not to set fire
To a friend’s house. When covering over
A gas stove with paper or inflammable plastic
So you can paint the kitchen without injuring the stove,
Be sure there is no pilot light, or that it is out.
Do not take pills too quickly when you think you have a cold
Or other minor ailment, but wait and see if it
Goes away by itself, as many processes do
Which are really part of something else, not
What we suspected. Raphael’s art is no longer as popular
As it was fifty years ago, but an aura
Still hangs about it, partly from its former renown.
The numbers seven and eleven are important to remember in dice
As are the expressions “hard eight,” “Little Joe,” and “fever,”
Which means five. Girls in short skirts when they
Kneel to play dice are beautiful, and even if they
Are not very rich or good rollers, may be
Pleasant as a part of the game. Saint Ursula
And her eleven thousand virgins has
Recently been discovered to be a printer’s mistake;
There were only eleven virgins, not eleven thousand.
This makes it necessary to append a brief explanation
When speaking of Apollinaire’s parody Les
Onze Mille Verges, which means eleven thousand
Male sexual organs—or sticks, for beating. It is a pornographic book.
Sexual information should be obtained while one is young
Enough to enjoy it. To learn of cunnilingus at fifty
Argues a wasted life. One may be tempted to
Rush out into the streets of Hong Kong or
Wherever one is and try to do too much all in one day.
Birds should never be chased out of a nature sanctuary
And shot. Do not believe the beauty of people’s faces
Is a sure indication of virtue. The days of
Allegory are over. The Days of Irony are here.
Irony and Deception. But do not harden your heart. Remain
Kind and flexible. Travel a lot. By all means
Go to Greece. Meet persons of various social
Orders. Morocco should be visited by foot,
Siberia by plane. Do not be put off by
Thinking of mortality. You live long enough. There
Would, if you lived longer, never be any new
People. Enjoy the new people you see. Put your hand out
And touch that girl’s arm. If you are
Able to, have children. When taking pills, be sure
You know what they are. Avoid cholesterol. In conversation
Be understanding and witty, in order that you may give
Comfort and excitement at the same time. This is the
   high road to popularity
And social success, but it is also good
For your soul and for your sense of yourself. Be supportive of others
At the expense of your wit, not otherwise. No
Joke is worth hurting someone deeply. Avoid contagious diseases.
If you do not have money, you must probably earn some
But do it in a way that is pleasant and does
Not take too much time. Painting ridiculous pictures
Is one good way, and giving lectures about yourself is another.
I once had the idea of importing tropical birds
From Africa to America, but the test cage of birds
All died on the ship, so I was unable to become
Rich that way. Another scheme I had was
To translate some songs from French into English, but
No one wanted to sing them. Living outside Florence
In February, March, and April was an excellent idea
For me, and may be for you, although I recently revisited
The place where I lived, and it is now more “built up”;
Still, a little bit further out, it is not, and the fruit trees
There seem the most beautiful in the world. Every day
A new flower would appear in the garden, or every other day,
And I was able to put all this in what I wrote. I let
The weather and the landscape be narrative in me. To make money
By writing, though, was difficult. So I taught
English in a university in spite of my fear that
I knew nothing. Do not let your fear of ignorance keep you
From teaching, if that would be good for you, nor
Should you let your need for success interfere with what you love,
In fact, to do. Things have a way of working out
Which is nonsensical, and one should try to see
How that process works. If you can understand chance,
You will be lucky, for luck is what chance is about
To become, in a human context, either
Good luck or bad. You should visit places that
Have a lot of savour for you. You should be glad
To be alive. You must try to be as good as you can.
I do not know what virtue is in an absolute way,
But in the particular it is excellence which does not harm
The material but ennobles and refines it. So, honesty
Ennobles the heart and harms not the person or the coins
He remembers to give back. So, courage ennobles the heart
And the bearer’s body; and tenderness refines the touch.
The problem of being good and also doing what one wishes
Is not as difficult as it seems. It is, however,
Best to get embarked early on one’s dearest desires.
Be attentive to your dreams. They are usually about sex,
But they deal with other things as well in an indirect fashion
And contain information that you should have.
You should also read poetry. Do not eat too many bananas.
In the springtime, plant. In the autumn, harvest.
In the summer and winter, exercise. Do not put
Your finger inside a clam shell or
It may be snapped off by the living clam. Do not wear a shirt
More than two times without sending it to the laundry.
Be a bee fancier only if you have a face net. Avoid flies,
Hornets, and wasps. Clasp other people’s hands firmly
When you are introduced to them. Say “I am glad to meet you!”
Be able to make a mouth and cheeks like a fish. It
Is entertaining. Speaking in accents
Can also entertain people. But do not think
Mainly of being entertaining. Think of your death.
Think of the death of the fish you just imitated. Be
   artistic, and be unfamiliar.
Think of the blue sky, how artists have
Imitated it. Think of your secretest thoughts,
How poets have imitated them. Think of what you feel
Secretly, and how music has imitated that. Make a moue.
Get faucets for every water outlet in your
House. You may like to spend some summers on
An island. Buy woolen material in Scotland and have
The cloth cut in London, lapels made in France.
Become religious when you are tired of everything
Else. As a little old man or woman, die
In a fine and original spirit that is yours alone.
When you are dead, waste, and make room for the future.
Do not make tea from water which is already boiling.
Use the water just as it starts to boil. Otherwise
It will not successfully “draw” the tea, or
The tea will not successfully “draw” it. Byron
Wrote that no man under thirty should ever see
An ugly woman, suggesting desire should be so strong
It affected the princeliest of senses; and Schopenhauer
Suggested the elimination of the human species
As the way to escape from the Will, which he saw as a monstrous
Demon-like force which destroys us. When
Pleasure is mild, you should enjoy it, and
When it is violent, permit it, as far as
You can, to enjoy you. Pain should be
Dealt with as efficiently as possible. To “cure” a dead octopus
You hold it by one leg and bang it against a rock.
This makes a noise heard all around the harbor,
But it is necessary, for otherwise the meat would be too tough.
Fowl are best plucked by humans, but machines
Are more humanitarian, since extended chicken
Plucking is an unpleasant job. Do not eat unwashed beets
Or rare pork, nor should you gobble uncooked dough.
Fruits, vegetables, and cheese make an excellent diet.
You should understand some science. Electricity
Is fascinating. Do not be defeated by the
Feeling that there is too much for you to know. That
Is a myth of the oppressor. You are
Capable of understanding life. And it is yours alone
And only this time. Women who appeal to you
Should be told so, and loved, if you can, but no one
Should be able to shake you so much that you wish to
Give up. The sensations you feel are caused by outside
Phenomena and inside impulses. Whatever you
Experience is both “a person out there” and a dream
As well as unwashed electrons. It is your task to see this through
To a conclusion that makes sense to all concerned
And that reflects credit on this poem, your species, and yourself.
Now go. You cannot come back until these lessons are learned
And you can show that you have learned them for yourself.

—Kenneth Koch

Tagged

Cut Out the Middle Man (Camp).

This is on a bus back from camp. I’m thirteen and so are you. Before I left for camp I imagined it would be me and three or four other dudes I hadn’t met yet, running around all summer, getting into trouble. It turned out it would be me and just one girl. That’s you. And we’re still at camp as long as we’re on the bus and not at the pickup point where our parents would be waiting for us. We’re still wearing our orange camp t-shirts. We still smell like pineneedles. I like you and you like me and I more-than-like you, but I don’t know if you do or don’t more-than-like me. You’ve never said, so I haven’t been saying anything all summer, content to enjoy the small miracle of a girl choosing to talk to me and choosing to do so again the next day and so on.A girl who’s smart and funny and who, if I say something dumb for a laugh, is willing to say something two or three times as dumb to make me laugh, but who also gets weird and wise sometimes in a way I could never be. A girl who reads books that no one’s assigned to her, whose curly brown hair has a line running through it from where she put a tie to hold it up while it was still wet

Back in the real world we don’t go to the same school, and unless one of our families moves to a dramatically different neighborhood, we won’t go to the same high school. So, this is kind of it for us. Unless I say something. And it might especially be it for us if I actually do say something. The sun’s gone down and the bus is quiet. A lot of kids are asleep. We’re talking in whispers about a tree we saw at a rest stop that looks like a kid we know. And then I’m like, “Can I tell you something?” And all of a sudden I’m telling you. And I keep telling you and it all comes out of me and it keeps coming and your face is there and gone and there and gone as we pass underneath the orange lamps that line the sides of the highway. And there’s no expression on it. And I think just after a point I’m just talking to lengthen the time where we live in a world where you haven’t said “yes” or “no” yet. And regrettably I end up using the word “destiny.” I don’t remember in what context. Doesn’t really matter. Before long I’m out of stuff to say and you smile and say, “okay.” I don’t know exactly what you mean by it, but it seems vaguely positive and I would leave in order not to spoil the moment, but there’s nowhere to go because we’re are on a bus. So I pretend like I’m asleep and before long, I really am

I wake up, the bus isn’t moving anymore. The domed lights that line the center aisle are all on. I turn and you’re not there. Then again a lot of kids aren’t in their seats anymore. We’re parked at the pick-up point, which is in the parking lot of a Methodist church. The bus is half empty. You might be in your dad’s car by now, your bags and things piled high in the trunk. The girls in the back of the bus are shrieking and laughing and taking their sweet time disembarking as I swing my legs out into the aisle to get up off the bus, just as one of them reaches my row. It used to be our row, on our way off. It’s Michelle, a girl who got suspended from third grade for a week after throwing rocks at my head. Adolescence is doing her a ton of favors body-wise. She stops and looks down at me. And her head is blasted from behind by the dome light, so I can’t really see her face, but I can see her smile. And she says one word: “destiny.” Then her and the girls clogging the aisles behind her all laugh and then she turns and leads them off the bus. I didn’t know you were friends with them

I find my dad in the parking lot. He drives me back to our house and camp is over. So is summer, even though there’s two weeks until school starts. This isn’t a story about how girls are evil or how love is bad, this is a story about how I learned something and I’m not saying this thing is true or not, I’m just saying it’s what I learned. I told you something. It was just for you and you told everybody. So I learned cut out the middle man, make it all for everybody, always. Everybody can’t turn around and tell everybody, everybody already knows, I told them. But this means there isn’t a place in my life for you or someone like you. Is it sad? Sure. But it’s a sadness I chose. I wish I could say this was a story about how I got on the bus a boy and got off a man more cynical, hardened, and mature and shit. But that’s not true. The truth is I got on the bus a boy. And I never got off the bus. I still haven’t.

— Gambino. 

Tagged

Email From Mom

Hey Jr,

Katrina and I have begun watching a TV show called “Basketball Wives”.  And well, we’ve decided that there needs to be a new show called “Basketball Moms”, so everyone could see how we basketball moms spend our time plotting and running off these expensive basketball wife hooches from our sons.
Love,    

Mom 

Tagged