Saturday, November 28, 2009

Beautiful Bliss

It's been a few months since I've really given any updates on how things have been going in my personal life, in addition to my musical and writing aspirations. Bearing that in mind, I might as well bring everyone up to speed.

I'm very excited about how consistent I have been at producing tracks over the course of the last few months. (For emphasis, I've made as many beats in the last three months as I have in the last three years, which is saying something considering I try to come away with something each time I start a "session.") I've also began a habit of writing my thoughts down in my composition book every Sunday night, which serves as much as a "Week In Review" as something to help give me an outline for my plans for each coming week.

As far as writing poetry and verses, the ideas I have in my head are evanescent, so if I can't get to my notebook fast enough, they usually fade away. It's nothing to finish writing a song, but it's hard to finish doing something if you never started doing it in the first place. I haven't given up though, because like the Greatest (Basketball Player) Of All Time Michael Jordan said, "I can accept failure, but I cannot accept not trying." And to look at it in perspective, when I make beats they capture my emotions at that moment I make them, whereas my songs and verses are more so my emotions turned into series of concise similes and metaphors. Sometimes they're just my thoughts about things that have been on my mind for a long time.

As far as my life goes, a lot of things have changed for the better. I've gotten closure on a lot of things that had previously been weighing me down, both mentally and emotionally. It should come as no surprise, but I'm a better person for it. My parents always put it best: You can't help somebody if you aren't taking care of yourself, and that seemed to be the reason why I did a lot of things this last year or so. Then it hit me: I was just using that as excuse for not taking care of my own business. I remember my Dad telling me to be selfish my senior year of high school. Be selfish, I thought. Isn't that a bad thing?

Not in the way that he meant it. Selflessness is one of the best characteristics a person can possess, but it is all too often that our efforts to help others are in vain, or even worse, we get taken advantage of by someone we thought to be better. It's because of this that I've cut a lot of dead weight from my life. As I'm getting older, I'm learning that it's not a bad thing to tell people "no" sometimes, and that it's not a bad thing to be underestimated. In fact, that's one of the things that gives me "Beautiful Bliss," as the title of the Wale collaboration with J. Cole and Melanie Fiona goes. I can relate to each person on that track in one way or another, but bliss can come from anywhere, person, or thing. Sometimes it just comes from knowing that your efforts to make it to the big time haven't been in vain.

For me, "Beautiful Bliss" as an actual thing that can be experienced is knowing that I give thanks to God for putting me at this point in my life. I've experienced my share of strife this year, but I'll end this entry with a bar I've been holding in: "Y'all can have 2009 / Because 2010 is mine." Knowing that I'm navigator of my future is what makes that something for me to keep in mind. This past year has been a tough one, so I know for a fact that bar is going to have to be the truth. After all, when you're at the bottom, all you can do is go up.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Breaking the Habit

Anybody that knows me knows that I lead a rather interesting life. It's not anymore interesting than that of the next person, but at the same time, it's far from what many would call "average." I'm the product of a bi-racial marriage, I actually welcome challenges, and overall, I try to find the bright side of even the darkest situations.

Now let's re-examine that last thing I mentioned: "...The darkest of situations." I don't know about you, but I've found myself in contretemps that a person my age, let alone a person of any age, should be smart enough to get out of (or steer clear of altogether). But the thing is in situations like these, as an outspoken young person, there are many times when nobody short of my closest loved ones or friends can talk to me. And even with, it takes a sign from the Man Upstairs to catch my eye to see that I should relax in certain situations.

What does this mean ultimately? I have to break the habit. Not just a habit, the habit. I can be so stubborn sometimes, that I find myself tripping over the most simple things. That's probably why I love the Linkin Park song "Breaking the Habit." It's so full of contradictions and emotion, that it's a negative song. But it's the positive message that gets your attention: The person singing the lyrics isn't just singing them, but belting out his sorrows for the world to hear, even if those are his last words as a living person. With that in mind, let those be my last words as a 21-year-old person:

"I'm breaking the habit... TONIGHT!"

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Playing Our Positions

One of the things that I have to remember as a young person on the cusp of adulthood (if I'm not already deep in it) is that good things come to those that wait, and moreover, patience is a virtue. So bearing that in mind, as much as I want to throw a tantrum when things don't go my way, or think about being a bad sport when I've competed as hard as I can and still come up short... I just can't do it anymore. And that's the adult in me talking sense into the kid in me, as abstract or just plain crazy as that might sound.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, impatience is a childish trait. It could be impatience with our loved ones, friends, or just life in general. I'm saying this from experience. There are things that I'm still waiting for that I've learned, for better or worse, I can't control and expedite into my life. But I've had to go through some growing pains before I realized that this happens to almost everyone in one shape or another, and then it hit me:

Good things come to those that wait for them.

Now I'm not saying you should just become lazy and not be proactive in life, never mind your own, but knowing you waited for something to come to fruition is usually, and might be the only way you'll ever learn how to appreciate it. For example, it's cool to say you can get a date with a different supermodel any day of the week, but 52 weeks later, you'll have no real relationship to show for it and a whole lot of baggage afterward. Now for comparison, if you just choose to befriend a member of the opposite sex and get to know them over the course of a year... Who knows what could blossom from that?

When people think of those who have passed, they usually think of the positive things that came from their time on this planet, but you know what those positive things usually are: Not the fact that they failed at times or might have made the same mistakes more than once, but the fact that they had the wherewithal to get up, and keep going. In the grand scheme of things, that's all that matters. Too many of us want to hit the game-winning shot in the championship game, instead of just playing our positions so our "teams" can win.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

All The Best

Lately, the lyrics to a familiar '80s song continue to play in my head: "Sugar free... in the night... / I'm sugar free... in the day / (All my sugar's gone, [she's] gone away).) Whether I'm trying to emulate the sounds of a Roland TR-808 drum machine for a drum track, or just watching the snow fall, I end up thinking about people that mean something to me, and in this case, a female companion.

It's no surprise that for someone as personable as I am, I tend to be rather aloof when it comes to discussing matters of the heart. (As long as mine keeps beating, I'm usually a happy customer.) Sarcasm and jokes aside, I've put my own ambitions second to only trying to help others out, no matter how successful those efforts may end up being. Compound this with me having a rather unsuccessful adolescence in terms of interactions with females, and I'm something of a jaded individual when it comes to romance.

But when it comes to this one girl... There's something different about her. Something intangible, a je ne sais quoi. I generally don't have time to consider dating a girl, so the word 'marriage' isn't in my extensive vocabulary at this point in my young life, but she's the kind of girl I could see myself marrying someday. She has a beautiful smile, real cute face, stunning figure, and these soft, brown eyes... And she's bright, too. She wants to be an elementary school teacher, and I can see why: She comes from the kind of family that I do, so being around kids isn't an issue with her.

I probably wouldn't even take the time out to write this if it wasn't something I think about some days when I get introspective, or don't have something to be doing at that exact moment. Absence must make the heart fonder, because when I was in town I tried to make time for her, but I didn't know what I was missing until I left. I guess what really struck me as different about her and set her apart from the other beautiful girls I come in contact with, is that she didn't need me to validate her... But she still enjoyed my company and chilling with me.

Whether we seriously get involved romantically is irrelevant at this point. As sweet as she's been to me, I wish her all the best.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Always Be On Time

I hit the floor next to my bed too hard this morning... The only thing that kept me from zooming out of my house was the fact that I hadn't brushed my teeth, was barefoot, and perhaps even more telling... I was still in my night clothes. Ah, well. At least I woke up refreshed for once.

After doing all of these things, I went over the morning's headlines, both local and national, while simply annihilating some Froot Loops, which now are a good source of fiber, according the box. (Thanks for being so health conscious, Toucan Sam.) I knocked out a couple of routine tasks, and my usually boring morning actually flew by for once. All of this considered, that's where the topic of today's entry really comes from: What is time, and what does it mean to us as people?

I'm not trying to start some esoteric scientific discussion, but this has been something that's always puzzled me, especially growing up in a Christian household. In the first book of the Bible, Genesis, we're taught that God created the Earth as we now know it in seven days, taking only the seventh off to rest. I'm not going to even go into the measurements of time in the Bible, because in the Old Testament people lived for hundreds of years seemingly and it would be a waste of time to try and quantize or measure anything from a holy book, let alone the Bible...

But I wonder: How long does a day last for the Father? One thousands years, a million... A google? At this evening's revival service, the guest speaker went on to talk about important numbers that appear throughout the Scriptures and picked a verse from Revelation to expound upon. As a Christian, I'm confident the Messiah will return when He is ready. I just find it interesting that as much as we could never do it, people some times try to think of God, heaven, or anything spiritual in scientific or even mathematical quantities.

For now, this is a verse I'm going to reflect on, from Revelations verse 11:15:

Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The Kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!"

If that's the case, maybe time doesn't matter that much after all. As long as I'm on His time, I'll always be on time.




Monday, October 19, 2009

Carpe Diem

With another day on the grind behind me, I have a few minutes to gather my thoughts before I try to get a solid eight hours of sleep... Or at least a chance to roll around in bed until the sunlight comes up. I hit the ground running as hard as it may have been to do so, due much in part to #MusicMonday on Twitter.

Yesterday was a full day. I had a great time preparing and enjoying a great Sunday dinner with a family friend, but there was one rotten apple in the otherwise great bunch of apples that I would call the different facets of my day. I finally got a response to an inquiry I had made, but it wasn't the one I was looking for... Or really needed, to be honest. It's cool though; it only made me work harder today.

The Man Upstairs must have seen me grinding with all this extra paperwork earlier, because I got an unexpected package in the mail way in advance. That was definitely a good look. Other than that, I had a chance to chill this evening and think my plans for the next couple months through. The most satisfying thing was probably the good advice I got from my Dad, but there was a track that I took apart and put back together that I cannot wait to finish tomorrow.

All in all, I'm alive to see another day, and if I don't see the next one tomorrow, I can say I had a great one. Live every day like it's your last, and carpe diem. (That's Latin for "Seize the day!")

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Nothing Worth Recording

It's been another "interesting" day for Legacy Elite, and I mean "interesting" in a good way. Many of the things I've been working on behind the scenes are coming to fruition, while others are coming together. I'm blessed and highly-favored by the Lord, so I expect nothing less than the best from me and those around me. God's had to put me in some humbling places just for me to admit this, but I have way too much to be happy about for me not to live life and enjoy it to the maximum. There are a lot of times when I forget I'm only in my mid-20s, and not in my mid-40s as my writings and my unique tastes in music and literature would lend people to believe.

I've gotten back into my production as serious as ever, and have cut back on a lot of junk that I feel wastes my time, such as mindless drivel in various forms of media: Corporate radio playlists, reality television (or really television in general), and literature that I cannot really get anything from. I believe this has to do with me looking at how certain songs or movies make me feel afterward as much as me having a birthday in a couple of years. After all, there are some songs, like TLC's "Waterfalls" that I will always love and reference as a piece of great music if someone asks me what great music sounds like someday... But other songs, which need no mention, don't make me feel the same way they did in high school.

Granted, I'm only 21, but outside of certain things that the older people in my family listened to or introduced me to, there aren't many records that drop today or I receive somehow that make me do a double-take. That's one of the things that make me enjoy making music, writing lyrics, and still learning how to combine the two: The chance to create something magical and timeless. When I listen to the first few bars of Tupac's "Dear Mama," I can't front: I almost tear up thinking about all my mother has done for my siblings and I. When I hear old '70s funk I instantly think of long road trips to Miami with my father and siblings and songs that seemed to last as long as I-95 itself.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that when I create music, it's coming from a special place, and if it doesn't, it can just as soon as go in the trash can. After all, what's music without some kind of soul or spirit in it? To me, it's nothing worth recording.

Friday, October 9, 2009

One Million and One

It's been a long time since I've updated my blog, but needless to say, I have my reasons. The seasons are changing and I've had more than enough to keep busy. One recurring thread that has quietly interwoven into the fabric that I call my life is gratitude. My year as been nothing short of incredible, be it from the dizzying highs or from the crushing lows.

Most people would think that triumph and defeat have nothing in common, but I beg to differ: They actually have everything in common. You flip a coin, and the result's going to be one or the other... There is no in-between. When we apply this rationale to life (and admittedly, as subjective as life can be at times, we probably shouldn't), life is ultimately a pass or fail course.

Sure you can say you cheated the teacher all those times you passed around answers in class, or even claim you cheated death that one night you fell asleep behind the wheel, but we're only cheating ourselves in the long run. I've learned that for better or worse, you can never cheat God. There are times when we feel like he isn't with us, or that we've avoided his judgment, but he always has the last word.

I say all of that to say this: Who are we, as mere human beings, to deny ourselves greatness? This question came up in a conversation with a friend and musical collaborator about our musical aspirations earlier this summer, and there was something about the conversation that resonated with me: He was to entitle one of his mix tapes "Glory or Death," and that profound title hit me hard. As someone who's been told that they have so much potential or could be anything I wanted to be my whole life, I've dealt with adversity and underestimation... But most of it has come from within my own mind. We are our own worst enemies, and once we can accept that, it allows us the freedom to make mistakes. After all, nobody is perfect!

I believe Basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan said it best: "I can accept failure, but I cannot accept not trying." As I'm getting older, I'd rather fall on my face one million times just to say I got back up one million and one. How about you?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Gametime

They say all work no play makes the person in question rather boring, don't they? If that's the case, I must be a boring dude. All I know how to do is work hard!

This is probably why I am taking a break. Because If I work as hard as I say I do, I seldom think of even relaxing for the mere sake of doing it. So for me, going on hiatus is out of the question.

Thank God I'm not the only person who cares about me.

To anyone out there wondering what it would be like if I actually focused on dropping that mixtape someday soon, or compiling those essays, or fleshing out those pitches, or even just coming back home for a minute like I said I would everyday since I left in 2006...

Thank you. You remind me that as hard as I work and as much potential I have to make a difference someday, the most interesting thing is that I may of already have.

This is Legacy Elite, going into the fourth quarter. Gametime.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Experience

At 21 years, I can say that I've had a decent run. I am in no way suicidal nor do I have a defeatist attitude towards my shortcomings so far in life, but I can finally look in the mirror each night when I scrub my enormous teeth, and get my winks in so that when I hear my alarm the following morning, it happens:

I hop up out the bed, turn my swag on, and well... You know the rest.

The only thing was, for the past month, I could not do that, for two good reasons. (Hint: They both came out of my mouth.)

My sideways wisdom teeth had to come out! Bloody murder! "No!" I screamed subconsciously.

Jokes aside, I say all that to say this: From missing the beginning of semester to basically being incubated from my normal life (which features everything from daily Tweets about random-yet-noteworthy events and trying to develop a jumper that may never come naturally to me), we as people never realize how valuable our lives are until they're gone. Mentally, it was like I never left; I still read the paper daily and when I felt creative, would write in my journal.

Ultimately though, I yearned to be in a different place physically, and emotionally, I was bitter that my prognosis was coming sooner than later.

We, especially all my fellow young people out there, have to stop making excuses for ourselves, especially finding reasons to be sad and despondent. There can always be darker days, and believe you me, I'm saying that from experience.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Heaven Is A Playground (Part II)

As as young man, and more importantly, a Christian, I want the odds stacked against me 11 out of ten times here in the physical world. In the fourth quarter of this game called life, I want all the pressure on me. Even if my running mate is on the bench that last crucial stretch of the game, mired in foul trouble.

While we're at it, put a couple of my team's youngest and most inexperienced players on the court alongside me. Let the more caustic opposing fans talk about my now-infamous stay in Colorado almost a full five years ago. I can see their signs saying I am a whining baby that could never win without the greatest center of my generation.

They told my virtual mentor in this sport the world has dubbed "basketball" that he couldn't fly anymore in 1998. He was in my same position with different shoes on his feet: An All-Star and All-NBA selection starting in the NBA Finals at shooting guard, but as I have on my signature Nike Zoom Kobe IV's, he wore his now-legendary "Last Shot" Nike Air Jordan XIV's.

But this isn't about him.

It's about Him working through me, and more importantly, my teammate: a point guard in the twilight of his career whose airborne shots look like solar eclipses to the detached retinas of our formidable opponents.

I want the fans of the other team to berate me after I misfire an airball in overtime, just like I did against that ice cold team with the stellar floor leader and the postman that even worked on Sundays, more than a decade ago.

But I'm wiser and stronger now. I think about my father, who was a member of championship teams before I was even born. He didn't win those games by himself. He couldn't, especially considering he spent most of his time on the bench.

I don't have to, either.

I look to my left and make the biggest assist of the season and one of the biggest of my future Hall of Fame career to the man "they" said was too slow to run with our opponents swift, young guards. His left arm extends and he flicks his left rest so the ball rotates like God just fired the whole world out of his left hand.

Swish.

It's his second three and world be the deciding shot of that game, and ultimately, the series. A trifecta unlke any other, and believe you me, I've seen some crazy shots in my fairly short time on this green and blue planet.

In my own game of life, metaphors and allusions aside, let my father God be Hall of Fame-bound coach Phil Jackson, and my teammate four-time NBA Champion Derek Fisher, be my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. My father has promised us and made it to the Promised Land time and time again. He is undefeated when chances at winning the greatest trophy of them all are on the line.And Jesus, you ask?He never misses in the clutch and saved me from a dark, heatbreaking defeat... No matter how selfish and childish I have been acting.

Heaven is a playground.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Heaven Is A Playground

Before I begin, I have to show some love to my friend Alisha, always representing LA to tthe fullest (yet she has a better Polo collection than I do... :-/)

My life can be summed up in four words right now: "Live in the Sky." I'm not even talking about the song of the same name by rapper / activist Clifford "T.I." Harris.

For one thing, I know for certain that if I cannot count on any organismon on this planet, dead or living, I can always count on my celestrial father, the majestic Jehovah Jirah.

Additionally, the old adage has proven all too true for me now at 21 more than ever: "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer."

For example, look at the dismantling of New York Cify rap supergroup the Diplomats by fraudulent Kufi-smacker Jim Jones. (Jim, why is Stack Bundles' family getting no money even though you use his lyrics in your published, major label songs?)

Moreover, a statement made by Grammy-winning music producer Bryan-Michael Cox has proven to be eerily prophertic in my life: "Money makes the [stuff] funny.]

Like my man 100K told me a month or so ago, "Money and family are like oil and water... They don't mix."

Regardless of the tough lessons I 've learned, though, I want to leave the reader with this. As the old sports maxim goes, "It ain't over until it's over."

After all, NBA great and three-time NBA Champion guard Derek Fisher missed five of his first seven signature, "lefty" three-point attempts in Game Four of the 2009 NBA Finals. He only made his last two shots.

Those "last" two shots were the beginning of the end for the Orlando Magic in the fourth game of an incendiary playoff, and perhaps more importantly, championship series.

Final score:

ORLANDO 91
LOS ANGELES 99

(To be continued...)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

'Swag Season'

Yesterday morning, I bounded out of my bed, took a long look in the mirror (word to Michael Jackson), and said 'What's up?' After all, I'm on break until Summer I starts in a couple of weeks. Last night, I got home from the gym pretty late, but just in time to see the Magic upset the Cavs. My swagger was at 1.9 trillion. I turned on the stereo in the garage, got me some strawberry Fanta, and they started playing some sick jawns on the local hip-hop station. I was jerking with no hands, mastered my Rack Daddy x Frankie x Ricky Bobby, and even segued into a swag surf. It was just me, the dim light in the garage, my headphones plugged into the stereo system, and visions of spending time with my girl this weekend.

Then it happened.

At 2:30 A.M., this lady storms downstairs in her nightclothes, and in broken English / Spanish, says: "What the @%$# are you still doing up? Go to @#$%@(( bed." I started to tell her that I'm on summer break, but I didn't want to get smashed in the face (for probably and literally the 96th time in my evanescent life) with those nefarious chancletas.

My swagger instantaneously dropped to -21. I now have to work harder than ever if I want to succeed this 'swag season.' image

Friday, May 15, 2009

When One Closes, Another One Opens

For better or worse, it's been a wild semester for me.

I've had people close to me perish, in ways physical, spiritual, and mental.

As easy as it is for me to say I'm going to pray for someone, one of the hardest things for me to do is to pray for myself, no matter how much I might need guidance from the Man Upstairs.

Looking at a few different things in my life right now, I know for a fact that I'm going to have to start giving up some of my current obligations. As much as it pains me to say it, outside of weekly Bible Study and one other major organization I am a part of at school, I'm going to have to pare things down to the bare essentials.

All I can do is my best, and pray to the Lord for guidance, no matter how tough times may get and how hopeless I may feel at times.

After all when one door or window closes, another one opens...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

"Flaw"

Wow, this morning was an anomaly.

I didn't hear my alarm clock go off. I actually slept in. Guess what time I woke up?

...9:30 A.M. That's late by my usual standards. Oh well, I still got plenty of stuff done today all over the place.

And since I just finished writing a long comment in reference to Officer Rick... er, "Rick Ross," why not share it with the masses?

In response to Boney Starks in reference to Phonte's sticking up for Rick Ross:

...With all due respect Tommie, who appointed Phonte the omnipotent hip-hop
critic? Some of his points are valid, but at other times he sounds contrite and
bitter that he no longer has 9th Wonder as a collaborator and Little Brother
never really hit well with the mainstream crowd.

The difference between OB4CL and Officer Ricky's material is that it was a concept album that represented the Wu mythology and much of the decadence of early-90s New York better than any album outside of Illmatic, the greatest hip-hop album of all time.

Ross, on the other time, is flippantly fraudulent about his actual criminal
exploits, and since we've found out that he was actually a correctional officer
in real life, has become a living paradox. Many people in Ross' circle are
legit, but he is what they call "flaw" in Liberty City, Overtown, et. al.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

One More Time

When exchanging contacts, a friend recently asked me why I only accept calls during certain hours of the day or night. I'm usually not home. Half of the time when I'm on FaceBook or Twitter or what have you, I'm literally not even in front of a computer. I don't consider my schedule "crazy," but I have to make sacrifices if I want to be successful someday.

07:25 AM: Wake up

07:45: Leave home for campus to help set up Community Picnic / Chili Cook-Off

09:00: Get my first break, first actual meal of the day. (Go to the library to check my e-mail / study)

09:20: Return to courtyard to continue setting up displays, assisting vendors / retailers / staff

10:45: Make my rounds and continue to help out middle school / elem. students on field trip

11:00 Go to Central Texas College / Tarleton Gym with Gina to deliver food to the ppl. @ the front desk

11:20: Go back, get more food for the men and go back to the courtyard again to begin taking everything down

12:00 PM: Everything is taken down for the most part. Now SIFE / Culinary Arts / Great Western volunteers are putting the food away and indoors before it starts raining.

12:30: Everything is put away. Now we go into the kitchen to put away the food, take a break to get something to drink.

13:00: We are finally finished. I get my food for my mother and family and put it in one of the freezers / fridges in the kitchen.

13:30: I go into the library to check e-mail / study some more.

14:00: I go to CTC Gym do agility and shooting drills, in addition to calisthenics

15:00: I shower, clear out my locker for the semester. Go back to the library to study some more / check more e-mails

15:30: Go back to the gym, but remember I left something in the Student Center...

16:00-30: I see Steph that works in the library in the Student Center waiting for his ride to another county. We walk up to the gym to shoot-around / chop it up for a minute

17:00-18:30: I take a break, get my notes / things together/ shoot some pool / watch ESPN until my ride comes

18:30: Ride with my mother to run errands go to the Mall

19:00: Arrive at the mall looking for some new Hyperdunkcs or some light-weight basketball shoes for a decent price since my Huarache 2K4's snakeskin literally snapped after I've been walking miles and through grass and playing basketball in them

19:30: Go to Xpressive Streetwear and find a flier for a mixer in another county over hosted by OZONE Magaazine and other local, prominent talent

20:00: Go to Dillard's to find a nice linen pant appropriate for the weather

20:30: Finally leave the Mall, go home and eat, talk to my Mother, and clean up and put my things away

21:00: Talk to Da Mic Wrecka about securing credentials / VIP pass

21:20: Consult with a liason about procuring a ride to the next county over

21:45: Begin getting dressed / etc.

22:30: Liason arrives at home and I introduce him to my family

23:15: We are finally in Heights. It takes us a minute to find the club because of all the clubs on Veteran's Memorial

23:35: Ask for Big Will @ the door; get my wristband

00:00-2:30 A.M.: Consult and network with various entities, enterprises, and tastemakers

2:45: My cab arrives...

3:05: I finally get home, take out the trash, do the dishes, clean up, edit some notes and highlight contact information

3:20: I call and check up on a friend in another time zone

3:38: I finally start to fall asleep.

"If you don't work, you don't eat. If you don't grind, you won't shine. (But you said that line before!) Well I'ma say it one more time..."

-Mike Jones

Monday, April 20, 2009

Complicated (Redux)

I really was hoping I wouldn't have to make a sequel to "Complicated," but for as much as I understand about the universe and sports and music, I am absolutely clueless when it comes to females. They say they want caring and understanding, and when you give it to them they take it and run the opposite way, like All-Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha picking off your favorite quarterback in the endzone.

Exactly like that.

You think you finally have something, you think you got those six points and scored--and when I mean score, I'm not taking about some sexual conquest--and then the corner plays under and takes it the other way the length of the field for a touchdown. Pick-6. I'm now negative on the scoreboard. An even better example is the end of the first half of Super Bowl XLIII: The Cardinals were primed for a score, and then the unthinkable happens--they lose the ball.

Why do I keep losing the ball? My quarterback vision could be better but I can see a blitz coming 20 yards away. My defensive line is small but they're quick on the feet and get the job done, like the legendary Zone-Blocking scheme. I know I have what it takes to win a championship, but apparently no one else out there feels the same way. All I can keep doing is going back to the drawing board in the locker room, working on new offensive formations with my receivers and backs, and hope that my team will catch that miracle at the end of the game, like Santonio Holmes did at the end of Super Bowl XLIII.

Maybe I need to stop dealing with girls and start getting to know women.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Complicated

For some unfathomable reason, a former classmate who shall go nameless in addition to a myriad of other females seem to believe my musings on love and relationships are all in vain or for some carnal purpose.

I liken love to basketball, chess, Othello, dominoes, and other games of chance.

In Algebra I in eighth grade, or perhaps Algebra II in tenth, we learned about probability, exponential realities, and Fibonacci sequences.

In dominoes, there are literally exponential possibilities as far as the final outcome for the ultimate victor. No matter what happens, you are never defeated until you submit to your one, two, or three opponents. You control the person in front of you, and can effectively shut down the person two people ahead of you. Like we learned in Chemistry in tenth grade, this becomes a chain reaction.

In Othello, Pressman's tag line could never be more apt: "A minute to learn... A lifetime to master." You can become cornered, dominated. If you can establish unity among your pieces on the board, divide and conquer, and ultimately unify your 'army,' you can outflank your opponent in the end game and emerge victorious.

When my brother brought home a chess set from Richmond Academy in the sixth grade, he taught me the fundamentals and different styles of game play. There are three segments to one game: The opening game, the middle-game, and the end-game. Throughout the first two segments, you are never defeated. (One of the most important tenets of chess is that your opponent does not beat you; but rather, you beat yourself.) You can move and attack your opponent piece for piece, and continue to lose major personnel, but you are never implicated in defeat until the end-game. Even in the end-game, you can prolong your defeat, and by moving within a certain amount of moves, you can emerge with a stalemate. If you choose to give up, you eventually become cornered and the result is your defeat in checkmate.

In basketball, there's three parts of a half-court: The left wing, top of the key, and the right wing. I take 100 shots from each wing and 50 from the the top of the key, rotating between both hands. I sometimes practice stutter steps, jab steps, fadeaways, and the like. Of these shots, only half reach the vicinity of the rim. Of those that do, only half go in. Of those that go in, only half look technically-sound, or "beautiful."

In love, you don't know who will love you and eventually marry someday. They could be white, Black, Brown, Indian, Arabian, Asian, extra-terrestrial, celestial, or what have you. Only a Higher Power knows. The only thing that matters is that they love you and want to be with you.

Life really is that simple. It's only as complicated as we as people make it for ourselves.

81

My favorite athletes are polarizing iconoclasts like Kobe Bryant, Terrell Owens, and Usain Bolt. You probably think I have some sort of superiority complex, right? Not at all.

The thing is, these athletes are probably the only ones that I can actually relate to on a personal level. When I play basketball I try to emulate Richard Hamilton, Reggie Miller, Tayshaun Prince, Josh Smith, and Andrei Kirilenko because I have a similar frame or skill set to most of them.

When I was younger no one ever wanted me on their team or wanted to be around me. People ask why I set such hard picks on curls and back cuts now: It's because when I was younger I was too frail to set a good pick and would either get ran through or I would end up in the ground. Cue the violins. I feel so sorry for myself.

I never had particularly good mechanics in respects to any sport I tried to play. I was too slow to run track, lacked the lung capacity for that as well, had too bad of coordination to play baseball or football, and was too frail for most of these activities. It's like now, when I go to the gym I do all my shooting drills and ball handling drills and agility and strength-enhancing drills by myself. Outside of a few close friends, I'm very reticent when it comes to the gym. Especially since I bust my face open last week.

Do I feel like I have a chip on my shoulder? No; it's more like a mountain. But every great person had to have some sort of chip on their shoulder, so I don't harp on it. I don't feel sorry for myself. I don't want anyone else to either.

Who knows, maybe when I get older people will actually value my company. It's whatever. Am I distant? No. Is Kobe distant? How about TO? Or Bolt? You might say so, but if you knew what they had to deal with as youths, you wouldn't say that.

What's Kobe's career high? 81. What number does TO wear? 81. As a multiple of three, that's the only number that matters to me at any gym, sandlot, or playground.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Trigger-nometry

After heavy deliberation, I've tabulated a formula for gentlemen to calculate their gross swagger product, or GSP:

(Shoes) + (Polo) + (Abercrombie) x (Swagger) =

(S) + (P) + (A) x (S) = (Ronaldhino Air Force I) + (Ralph Lauren Polo custom fit rainbow XL) +

(A F cargo pants) x (10,000²²) =

($150) + ($70) + ($65) x (a google or 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) =

2,850,000²²

My GSP is 285 to the 26th power.

Calculate yours. Many of the variables are interchangable.

Quoth the legendary Polo Dro: "Mathematically, with a ______ I do trigger-nometry."

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

23 Ways to A Billion Dollars

I'm sure that by now, people probably think I have some sort of vendetta against future NBA Hall of Famer LeBron James. This couldn't be farther from the truth.

While living in Idaho, I actually went to the Champs Sports in the Boise Towne Square mall in autumn 2006 the day the Zoom LeBron IV's were released and paid cash money for them, which was what, $150? I wore those things to death. Foamposite works well in snow, so I literally wore these shoes everyone outside of formal events.

As an aspiring journalist in Augusta, Georgia, I first read about LeBron James in the September 2001 issue of Slam magazine. I was amazed by what I read in the story, because this guy wasn't that much older than me, and he was draped in all these new adidas threads. He had the carbon fiber KOBE's on; a clean adidas track suit, and didn't look that much stronger than my father, but was really tall.

(This is especially worth noting, because back in 2001 the ABCD Camp was still sponsored by adidas and legendary sneaker impresario Sonny Vaccaro.)

He didn't really have much of a nuclear family, outside of his mother, her boyfriend, his AAU and high school teammates, and his coaches. He sounded very reserved and mature for a 17-year-old kid. I could really relate to that, because as large as my family is, it's been very makeshift during some parts of my life, and I never really liked opening up to people I had just met when I was younger.

Throughout the story, LeBron displayed little idiosyncrasies that would portend an illuminant future, like signing autographs differently every single time he touched something, so that no one could fabricate his signature. I was just amazed by how normal he was as someone getting press in a major sports publication.

Fast forward to today, April 13th, 2009. LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers have secured the number one overall seed in the 2009 NBA Playoffs and he is as a heavy favorite to receive the NBA's coveted MVP award, and a lock for several other awards, such as All-NBA First Team, All-NBA Defensive First Team, et. al.

I just wonder: LeBron, as blessed as you are physically and mentally, do you really need Commissioner Stern to implement a rule so you can dominate even moreso next season? You take as much of a beating as anyone in today's NBA, but the crab dribble would literally have you averaging a triple-double next season. Truth be told, today's NBA is a fraudulent mockery of yesterday's NBA. NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan played against some of the toughest defenses and defenders in the annals of basketball history, and still dominated.

There is no hand-checking in today's NBA. There is now a three-second-in-the-key rule. You can actually play zone defense in today's NBA. Commissioner Stern, I understand you want to globalize the NBA. Yo entiendes todo eso; yo soy Latino. But at what cost?

I'm a very labile person and never put anything out of the picture. But are we really helping or hurting the legacies of players like LeBron James? Don't let the money distort your vision of the future of basketball.

Monday, April 13, 2009

3-Peat

I don't believe in numerology, witchcraft, freemasonry, or any of that stuff, and am not very superstitious, but I do believe good things come in 3's. Here's proof:

-Allen Iverson wore the number 3 throughout his Hall of Fame basketball career, most notably as a rookie when he won the NBA Rookie of the Year award.

-D.J. Shockley wore the number 3 in his decorated collegiate football career at the University of Georgia.

-My cousin Alex wore the number 12 throughout his notable high school football career, a multiple of 3.

-In the Christian church, there's a Trinity: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

-The three major organized religions all refer to a higher power, but refer to 'It' as a something different: Jehovah Jirah, Allah, and Yahweh.

-The numbers in my birthdate (10/29/1987) all up to 2046, a multiple of 3 with no remainders.

-My parents originally had three children, my brother, my sister, and I.

-There were Three Musketeers in the old English tale.

-I was 21 when I gave my life back to Christ, a multiple of 3.

-One of the most powerful and successful offenses in basketball history is the Triangle offense, revolutionized by Tex Winter and utilized by Phil Jackson during his stints with the championship Chicago Bulls teams of the '90s and and the championship Los Angeles Lakers teams of the '00s.

-Lil' Wayne has reached the apex of his musical career with the third installment of his Carter series, The Carter III.

I don't want people to think I'm some sort of religious zealot or stark raving lunatic, but I do believe everything happens for a reason, especially when it comes to 3's...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A psalm of David.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.

Things could always be worse!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Reappraisal

Since I'm still up taking care of some administrative work and talking to a friend, I thought I'd give some background on a new skill I've recently developed: Reappraisal.

There's an excellent article on it the current issue of Details magazine, but in a nutshell: Reappraisal is a skill people learn after they've almost literally failed and have been rejected in every facet of life. No matter what comes their way, they still roll with the punches and keep a smile on their face.

As someone who's failed time and time again and been rejected in so many different ways over the course of my fairly evanescent life, I've steadily learned to never let anything get me down in terms of the long-term. No matter what happens, as long as I am still alive, I tell myself, "Things could always be worse. My mother and father are both living testaments of that statement.

Your life could always be worse. Don't give up!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

"...I'm doing my best."

Ever feel like your best just isn't good enough?

I feel like that more than I would care to... Our life on this planet is a crazy thing, I guess. God never gives us more than we can handle, but according to people we come in contact with, it seems like we're not capable of handling all we're responsible for.

Negative things don't bother me anymore, but hearing them from people I care about... I won't even front: It hurts sometimes. It could be a family member, relative, close friend... Any of the above. At 21, I couldn't care less what a stranger says about me. After all, I hear something new everyday:

"Your teeth are too big."
"Your skin is too light."
"You're too soft."
"You're too nerdy."

But when someone you care about or respect says something to you... It's different. It actually stings.

One thing I don't take lightly is when people who supposedly care about me and know question my ambition, my hunger, or my initiative towards creating a better life for me and those around me. I don't want anyone's sympathy, but I am getting too old to keep being modest about everything I do or don't do.

I usually wake up at 6 o' clock Monday through Friday and 8 o' clock on the weekends. I usually don't go to bed until midnight, or whenever I feel like everything at home (on top of everything else) is done. Whichever comes first. I clean and organize things with a spirited fervor; I guess that comes from being around military people all my life. I'm a stickler for details; when I iron my dress clothes they have to be sharply-creased. My dress shoes have to be shone to the point they begin to gleam like Waterford crystal.

I always have something to write with on me, be it a pen or pencil, and will take notes with either hand (however legible they may be) just to make sure I got a phone number, address, e-mail, or website down. I constantly keep track of military time even when I don't wear a watch. I'm always reading something, be it a magazine, newspaper, book, or just the nutrition facts on the back of a food product.

My point is, I'm not just some romantic who thinks his dream is going to magically appear out of thin air. I don't know what some people's perceptions of me are, but I can be extremely pragmatic and objective. I'm working hard to be the best person I can be.

"...I'm doing my best."

Monday, March 30, 2009

Know Thyself

People ask me all the time how I'm so outgoing and how I can keep a smile on my face, even on rainy days. They ask me how I know how to talk to almost any person that walks by me. They tell me I'm a "people person." If only they knew.

Contrary to popular belief, I really don't like talking about myself that much. I will literally talk about anything else in the world during conversation with a stranger before I actually talk about me, Michael. Some may attribute that to low self-esteem or something of the sort, I don't know. I just really don't like talking about myself, especially not in a positive light. To be completely honest, I don't even like taking pictures. There's not much, if anything, to see.

For emphasis, I think I went for three years using MySpace without having an actual picture of myself up. I might look in the mirror twice daily, and that's when I get fresh in the morning and brush my teeth at night. Interestingly enough, an acquaintance once told me that I don't know how to take compliments from people. It's not so much that I don't know how, so much as I'm not used to receiving them.

It's strange, I guess. Up until just recently, I've always felt very out of place just about anywhere I've been. I supposedly speak too proper to be Black, but have features too Black to be Hispanic. I'm Hispanic but could never speak perfect Spanish; I can only roll my tongue on a good day. All the other men on both sides of my family are short and stocky, and I'm tall and lanky. White people don't seem to readily accept me because I still look like some sort of spook, or whatever it is they call us these days.

One thing I never really liked was my complexion. For some strange reason, many darker Black people always get the impression that I feel like I'm better than they are because I am light-skinned. That was only one of many things I got picked on for in school, but probably the one I hated the most. I used to spend many days outside during the summer in hopes of getting darker and blending in with everyone else at school and elsewhere, but to no avail. The only light-skinned people outside of my family I was ever really familiar with were on television or in movies, so it was years before I realized that they actually existed and my siblings and I weren't some kind of wretched curses.

Don't get me wrong: We received plenty of love at home. My parents did an amazing job raising us. It's just that society as a whole, even in the late 20th century, collectively had (and still has) a myopic vision as far as interracial relationships go. My mother recently told me that everyday was a struggle being married to my father, if nothing else because Black women abhorred her union with my father and made it no secret any time they saw them in public together. She said she had to be able to do everything twice, if not three times as well as a Hispanic lady. It's crazy, but that's probably why she can cook better soul food than 95% of the Black women I've ever come in contact with.

When it's all said and done, I guess I'm a decent individual. I just really don't like how people are so xenophobic when it comes to having to accept different types of people. "Know thyself," Socrates said. I suppose that's all I can do.