Monthly Archives: April 2011

Punks Jump Up…

Yeah, I know the song ain't from this album. Sue me.

The other week, one of my boys sent a few friends a YouTube link.  He introduced the clip by telling us that it incensed him, but knowing how frequently this particular friend often worships at the temple of hyperbole, I was prepared to be interested but not necessarily agitated.

I was wrong.

The clip is called “Recognize Bloody Loco ASAP” and it’s little over a minute of what some might call male posturing, some might call pure fuckery, and others might call just another day on the New York City subway.  All of the above are correct, by the way.  I suggest that you watch it, but in the event that you don’t want to risk going banana nut apeshit on the next fool that throws you the hairy eyeball as a delayed response, I’ll kindly summarize it for you.

Basically, the whole thing consists of a menacingly(?) monikered youth named Bloody Loco loudly informing a thirtysomething man we’ll call “Sweater Guy” of his complete lack of fear, his desire to engage in fisticuffs and above all else, his utter devotion to ensuring that everyone on that train recognizes his name …”ASAP!”

Throughout Mr. Loco’s rant, Sweater Guy remains calm and collected, occasionally tossing in an ironic comment or two, but obviously doing his best to tune out the aural rapist confronting him.  This is an impossible feat, of course, since Bloody’s incessant barking is well…incessant.  Seriously, I’d rather have two hungry babies with diarrhea and chicken pox duct taped to my head all day than listen to this poster boy for lead poisoning for 20 minutes.

What is this crap all about?  Why the need to hoot, holler and pound one’s chest?  Why is obnoxiousness of this sort equated with masculinity?  Sigh…

Actually, I don’t have time to go into the effects that a lack of positive male role models, glorification of criminality and internalization of stereotypes has had on poor, urban youth.  If I did that, then I’d have to get into brainstorming possible solutions and whatnot, and let’s face it: y’all fools got acute ADHD.  So, let’s just acknowledge that the issue exists and that there are some good reasons for it.  Having done that, the question becomes how am I, as a grown ass man striving for consciousness, supposed to react when faced with a situation like the above?

From where I sit, I’d say that Sweater Guy pretty much had it right.  No matter how much somebody like that is pressing on your last nerve, it really doesn’t pay to respond in like manner.  For one, it might escalate the situation beyond a battle of words.  Y’all remember the Cuban Missile Crisis, right?  Nobody really wants to get bombed, but some idiot might just go nuclear if he feels backed into a corner.

Plus, if a cat is proud enough of his immaturity to be actin’ a damn fool in public like that, it stands to reason that he probably has a lot less to lose than you do.  Maybe he ain’t scared of going to jail.  Maybe he knows his boys are chillin’ on the next block and Big Mook just looooves to jump periwinkle-wearing muphuckas like you.  Maybe he’s too much of a punk to swang them thangs and as soon as you beat his ass, he’ll go pop the trunk.  Regardless, none of these outcomes are good for you, my urban professional friend with a wife, two kids and a mistress who’s blackmailing him.  Unless it’s unavoidable, just don’t do it.

By the way, I practice what I preach.  The other day, I was out on a date and I got up from my seat to find someone to take our order.  (Already a bad sign.)  There were no dividers on the bench, so as I walked away, some dude decides he’s gonna take my seat…despite the fact that he saw me get up and was now sitting right next to my date.

After coming back to the table, the lady asked me if I wanted to stay or leave.  I told her that it was entirely up to her, knowing that if she decided to stay, I might find myself on a collision course with Fuckhead Johnson and the Underachievers.  I wasn’t about to huff and puff, but dude had made a physical incursion into my space, so he would have to answer for that.

But what do you know?  Babygirl just slid me a reassuring smile, elegantly rose from her seat, and elected to bounce.  There are a few takeaways from that experience.

First, when someone “tests” you, think of it as a test of discipline and not a test of manhood.  My emotions would likely have led to broken glass and maybe broken jaws instead of what turned out to be a really nice evening.  Second, having well-grounded people by your side solves like 90% of the equation.  If my date was one of those women that wanted a little “thug” in her man, she might have actually encouraged the stupidity.  Booooo.  Finally, certain contexts just attract knuckleheaded idiots.  If you go to spots frequented by assholes, expect shitty situations.

So remember these words the next time some punk tries to flex on you:  You owe it to yourself to let it go…unless you know you can beat his ass and get away with it.

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Filed under Social Issues

Let’s Go Crazy: The Case for Insanity

Blow up the damn elevator. Now THAT’S crazy.

Ever feel that the life you lead isn’t the one that’s meant for you?

I’m not talking about some kind of materialistic craving for a better car, a bigger house, or more money.  I’m talking about a fundamental feeling that your existence – your career, your city, your partner – is somehow a world apart from the one that should be yours.  Sure, there are those gorgeous moments when you can feel yourself alive in your true identity; eyes wide open, bathing in the rays of your own colorful light.

Those occasions are the exception, not the rule, and most ticks of the clock find you awash in numbing grey.  Through time’s bleak passage, you can’t help but feel that YOU ARE GREATER THAN THIS AND WERE MEANT FOR MORE.  So, just what is one to do when the vision of their true place in the universe is so vastly different from their accepted reality?

The only logical answer is to go crazy.

I don’t mean give oneself over to psychotic breaks, schizophrenic attacks or dissociative episodes…as fun as Showtime TV series make them look.  Instead, I’m suggesting that you allow all of the rage, the frustration, and the sadness to push you toward rejecting the day-to-day ins-and-outs of your hyphenatedly disappointing life.  You’ve got to get angry enough to push back against the situation that’s responsible for all of the emotional turmoil in the first place.  Basically, you need to lose your muphuckin’ mind so you can get it back again, and losing your mind means destabilizing your belief in reality.

Don’t get me wrong.  Stability is often a good thing.  It can be nice to know that every time a step hits the ground, it will feel exactly the same as it did the day before.  But what if, instead of concrete, you were faced with quicksand on a daily basis?  Instead of supporting you, with each step your surroundings are slowly dragging you to a horrifyingly suffocating death.  In this case, stability is an illusion: your life is static, but there’s nothing stable about it.  Recognize this, and your first crazy, rebellious step won’t be too far behind.

Yes, I said rebellion.  Your current reality is a prison, created and policed by enemies who seek to stifle your growth for their own benefit.  As such, you’ve got to rebel against said reality and its enforcers.  This may not be as emotionally easy as it sounds – it could entail rejecting friends, family and even the coppertop formerly known as YOU.    But you’ve got to get on with it.  Gum up the works.  Stick bananas in tail pipes.  Throw your fists in the air.  The sheep will call you crazy, but you’ll be too busy losing it to hear them.  Too busy with your crazy little rebellion.

The first shots of said rebelionita will manifest in various forms, suitable for the personal struggles to which they are intimately connected.  It might mean taking back-to-back, unnecessary sick days on Friday and Monday.  Maybe you’ll sign up for that spoken word event at the local bar.  Perhaps you’ll finally speak to that mohawked cashier at the supermarket.  Whatever it is, if you don’t feel a little scared the day before you do it and at least minimally terrified immediately beforehand, then it wasn’t crazy enough.  You’ve got to push yourself into the heat of discomfort, ever closer to the flame until your fears are illuminated and the fear of the fear burns away.

Notice, I said the FEAR of the fear: the fear itself will never disappear.  When you acknowledge that, it will begin to lose its grip on you, and you’ll start to free yourself from your father’s expectations.  From your boss’ intimidations.  From your own doubts.  You might eventually go crazy enough to quit that corporate job to pursue that passion for dance, or forsake the path of a starving artist to get that law degree you always wanted.  Every day, it will become easier for you to do beautiful, painful things that bring you closer to sweet insanity…also known as true life.

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Your Cheating Heart: Infidelity Is a State of Mind

Dude, you’ve got a LOT to learn.

It’s a pleasantly warm and bright Sunday afternoon.  On one of the first real days of spring, the squirrels are playfully scampering around the path to your boyfriend Kevin’s apartment, and there’s more than a touch of excitement running through you, too.  You’re about to pay your man a surprise visit to celebrate this gorgeous day.

As you thrust the key into the lock, the butterflies do that little dance in your tummy.  Elated smile.  Walking in, those same butterflies rapidly morph into 50 pound stones.  Pained grimace.  You find yourself open-mouthed, staring at Lucinda (the only female friend of his that you never worried about) in a bright red apron, four-inch heels, what looks to be MAC Lady Danger lipstick, and nothing else, bent over the stove with Kevin behind her.  You do NOT like the smell of what they’re cooking.

In fact, it’s safe to say that you’ve probably lost your appetite for the entire week.  But should you lose your boyfriend, too?  Probably not, and there are two good reasons why.

First off, in all likelihood his cheating had nothing to do with you.  Yes, he broke a promise and probably your heart, right along with it.  For that, he’s as wrong as two left shoes.  But there’s a really good chance that his feelings for you are still just as strong as ever…it’s just that Lucinda’s ass looks like it’s pregnant with twins.  His embrace of her body is not a rejection of your love.  Dude just got caught up in the bootyliciousness, and I’d bet good money that if you give him a choice, he’ll choose you.  If he doesn’t, then that means that you didn’t have his heart in the first place.

The second, more important reason why you might wanna reconsider closing the door on Mr. Lova-Lova is the fact that you ain’t no angel yourself.  Please, don’t look all shocked.  Yeah, you may not have physically done anything with your colleague Jamal, but you damn near got carpal tunnel rub-a-dub-dubbing to mental images of him in the shower.  Plus, on more than a couple of occasions you even used him as a tool to push you toward the “little death” on those nights when Kevin just wasn’t killing you hard or fast enough.  Oh, and since y’all work together, you go to lunch with Jamal at least twice a week, and when he can’t make it…your day just isn’t the same.

In my book, that makes you just as guilty as Kevin, if not more.

Yes.  Kevin was definitely burying his bone in somebody else’s backyard.  But you were having a whole ‘nother relationship with another man, complete with full on muthaphuckin’ emotional attachment!  Where I come from, any real relationship is built on emotional bonds, not physical ones, so I’d say you and Jamal were going steady…even if it was only in your mind.  I mean, your mind is the most important sex organ after all, and we’ve known this for millennia.  The Bible says that “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”  I may not believe the theology, but I’ll be damned (hopefully not) if this ain’t one of the Good Book’s many nuggets of wisdom.

Where the scriptures get it wrong is on the moral implications of said burning yearning: lust is a perfectly natural, amoral emotion, not a sin.  You couldn’t stop yourself from lusting any more than you could stop poor white folks in Texas from voting against their interests.  But, what you can do is acknowledge that those desires abide within both you and your partner.  Don’t try to live in the illusion that no one else exists, ‘cause that will only lead to an unhealthy relationship with dangerously repressed feelings bubbling just beneath the surface.  Science has my back on this, people.  Apparently, being forced to block out other options actually ends up weakening a person’s resolve to stay committed, and who wants that?

So breathe for a second, little one.  Collect yourself.  Slowly walk over to the kitchen…and disrobe.  On top of being the only girl-friend that you never suspected, you always thought Lucinda was sexy as hell.

Hey, it’s a beautiful day.  Time to put a little work into your relationship!

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Filed under Philosophy, Relationships, Sexuality

I Wonder If I Take You Home

OMG. You might as well wear an arrow pointing to your crotch.

You just broke up with your boyfriend two months ago.  It’s Friday night, and none of your people want to go out ‘cause they’re either too exhausted from the work week, or they’re with their significant other doing things that lovers do.  This leaves you bored and lonely, so you decide to roll out solo to the neighborhood night spot.  The live band is rockin’ it, the drinks are cheap, and before you know it, you’re feeling as nice as a Care Bear on ecstasy.

Then you see this tall, handsome cat with great skin and a chiseled frame roll up to the bar.  He sees you checking him out, so he smiles.  Before long, you and Lorenzo are on the dance floor doing the Lambada to a dancehall version of “Milkshake”.  Your oven is hotter than Grandma Patty’s on Thanksgiving afternoon.  Like a true predator, Lorenzo can sense that this is the moment to make that move: he asks if you wanna take the party to his spot just two blocks away.

Your first thought is to say, “Hell yes,” but you vacillate for at least a minute.  I mean, what would he think about you?  What if he’s some kinda psycho?  Crap!  Did you remember to wax?  But Lorenzo, the liquor, and your suppressed libido keep whispering sweet nothings in your ear.  Before you know it, you’re off…and so are your jeans.  The next morning, engaged in The Walk of Shame, you can’t help but ask yourself, “Am I a slut?”

Instead of just jumping into the answer, let’s take a look at a checklist designed to ensure that you always know what to do when you hear the call of the wild.

1. Are you sober, or at least in majority control of your motor functions? If the answer is no, then please, don’t do it.  Any stand-up guy is turned off by girls who are fall-down drunk.  Seriously, who wants to get close to somebody that might go all Mt. St. Helens with her stomach contents at any time?  If the dude observes your state and still wants to bed you, he’s at least ethically challenged and maybe even mentally disturbed…which is a bad thing, for y’all taking notes.  [Exception:  If dude is shit-faced too, then feel free to stumble your alcoholic ass on down the road to perdition!]

2. Do you really need it? If you always “need” it, then I advise you to seek psychological counseling.  Or a dildo.  Or both.  This is about those occasions when it’s just been forever and you’re going to literally re-virginate if not tended to quickly.  In other words, it’s a smergency – a sex emergency.

3. Does it feel like destiny? You and this guy have been talking, dancing, and laughing the night away.  He’s wonderful, he thinks you’re fantastic, and you’ve never felt this uncanny need to be one with anybody so quickly before.  It just feels right.  Guess what?  It is!  Go for it with the knowledge that you’re following the will of the universe.  20 years later when you’re sitting in your gazebo at your summer home at the Vineyard, chillin’ with Mr. Right, you’ll thank your horny, twenty-to-thirty-something self for making up that BS.

So ladies, the next time shit gets thick with no time to think, go ‘head and get busy off of basic instinct!  Ask yourself those three simple questions and you can’t go wrong.

And oh yeah, I almost forgot.  You are DEFINITELY a slut for getting with old boy that Friday night.  I mean, c’mon, you just met him!  Your momma would be ashamed!

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Filed under Sexuality, Social Etiquette

Excuse Me. No, Seriously.

So, I guess we're ALL losers then?

Most English speakers are familiar with the saying that goes something like this, “Excuses are like assholes: everybody’s got one and they all smell like shit.”  I don’t know about you, but the sentiment behind that fragrant phrase never quite seemed to connect with me.

Part of the problem I have with it is the fact that I just don’t like big old blanket statements.  Almost nothing is a simple matter of black or white: the human experience is just way too complicated to assume that any given behavior is flawed in every given context.  Is there really no situation in which an excuse is justifiable?  I mean, come on.  There are times when crap just happens that throws off your ability to accomplish whatever the hell it is that you set out to do, or would like to see done.  It’s just humanly impossible to prepare for every eventuality.  But that doesn’t stop us from thinking that everybody EXCEPT US should be able to do just that.

The classic example of the above phenomenon is the tendency for the masses to attribute a bad economic climate to the president.  Of course, anyone who bothered to pay attention during the first week of undergrad macroeconomics knows that this makes about as much sense as blaming an overgrown rodent for an extra long winter.  Matter of fact, you don’t even need any undergraduate credits to realize that our economy is a massive, tremendously unwieldy beast that we can only hope to contain and never control…kinda like drunk, white lacrosse players at an Asian sorority’s toga party.  Yeah, you lost your job, which sucks, but the president couldn’t help you even if she wanted to.  (Note: If she’s Republican, she doesn’t want to.)  In fact, my main issue with our hatred for excuses lies within that example of public ignorance regarding presidential impotence.

Things don’t always work out, despite our best laid plans.  We’ve all been there.  We’re all familiar with the accompanying feelings of disappointment.  So, where’s the empathy?

Psychologists have named this gap between our ability to enumerate the myriad reasons why we failed to accomplish a task, down to the minutest detail, while simultaneously being unable to comprehend why our “lazy” or “idiotic” or “irresponsible” colleague “dropped the ball”.  They call it the Fundamental Attribution Error (FAE).  In short, it means that we’re really good at understanding why things go wrong for us, but are equally lousy when it comes to appreciating the snags that others encounter.  (I think that this is just a specific instance of our outlandishly selfish natures, but that’s a topic for another day.)

By the way, the implications of FAE reach far beyond you being a jerk to your direct report when that TPS report doesn’t get filed on time.  It operates on a grand scale, too.  Fill in the blank: “Those damn ____.  They’re so lazy.  That’s why they never get ahead.”  Sound familiar?

In the end, it might behoove us all to spend a bit more time thinking about the many obstacles that can disrupt our flow.  Remember the sick person that delays the train and makes you late for a meeting.  Recall the horrible sound system that totally killed your opening night performance.  Reminisce about the condom that broke and forced you into a shotgun wedding with last summer’s booty call.  Recollect that until 1965 (little more than a decade before I was fucking BORN), you might not have been able to vote if you were a descendant of slaves.  Perhaps then we’d show a little more understanding for each other, stop being so self-centered, and get our heads out of our asses…unless we’re looking for an excuse.

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Filed under Social Issues