Saturday, July 31, 2010

Look Good, Play Good?

About 10 days ago a email went out to my entire company. The topic was one that is all to familiar "The Dress Code." I've worked at my job for almost a year now and that was the 4th dress code email I've seen, one of my supervisors joked that it comes every time the seasons change. Well the atmosphere in my office has changed rather dramatically since that email as everyone's been somewhat concerned if they were adhering to the dress code. All this hoopla surrounding the dress code made me think about the power of appearance, or rather the power we have given it. Dress codes serve one major purpose: to establish a professional look, with hopes of being taken seriously at the given profession. The thought line goes as followed: if we look good, people will: a) take us seriously and b) think we are good at what we do. Appearance is a measure of our respectability and productivity. The problem is that the measurements are based on how others see it.

When I played high school football one of my favorite parts of playing was dressing for game day. I was one of the pretty boys. I had fancy cleats, nice nike gloves, had the Under Armor, wore wrist bands on my forearms and had a clear visor. I even wore a pretty number: 24. I would always say "Look good, play good." A small percentage of my performance was based on my appearance. If I looked good, I'd feel good and in turn play good (and even if I didn't or my team lost, at least I looked good lol). My appearance had more internal importance than external. I needed to look good because I felt it would influence my performance. I did it for me.

What seemed immature and foolish then, actually makes a little sense now. When we are first taught of appearance we are taught that internal importance, that if we look good we'll feel good and do well. As we get older we learn more about the "feel good" part of the statement. The reason we feel good is because we look "capable" in the eyes of others. If we look the part, they will see us as it. In football, pretty boys are seen as playmakers (more often than not). That pseudo-respect leads to expectations. Now we must perform a certain way because they are expecting us to do so based on our appearance (you know how I feel about expectations). This is where it all gets problematic.

The man who walks in the room with a business suit on immediately gets our respect, not because of the suit, but moreso because of what we expect him to do. We expect him to have a profession worthy of that suit (Lawyer, Banker, Executive, etc.) and thus we give him respect. On the converse, if we see someone in jeans and a white tee shirt what do we think? In some cases our perceptions may indeed be true but what about the instances in which they are not?

I prefer the comfort of jeans and a white tee. This doesn't mean that I don't own a suit, that I'm not a professional or that I don't deserve respect. I must admit that I do enjoy the low expectations that people make of me when I'm dress that way, I like to surprise them. I would however, enjoy it more if people didn't form expectations on me based on my appearance. I'd enjoy if we stop giving appearance the power we currently do. I know that some appearances are necessary (I wouldn't take a police officer seriously without his uniform) but for us to make "glaring" assumptions and expectations on individuals based on their appearance is wrong. Lets stop assuming that because someone looks good, they'll play good. Lets watch them play, then make our judgments.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Daily Wiki

One of my favorite pastimes is randomly searching topics on Wikipedia. Now everyone knows that Wikipedia is "The Free Encyclopedia" and that the articles are written and edited by volunteers . Anyone with access to the site can edit any article (my line-brother once edited the Phi Bet Sigma page to include his line name lol) so it's also known that Wikipedia should not be used as a credible reference. Writing and editing of articles has become a bit more stringent over the past few years to increase the site's reliability. Nevertheless Wikipedia is indeed informative and entertaining. I can admit with, no shame, that I have turned to Wikipedia to answer many of my questions. In fact almost daily I visit the site to learn about some of the most random things. Usually my initial search leads me to a path of more searches (knowledge), no doubt because of those damn hyperlinks lol.

Well here's my search for today:

Autobahn which lead me to realize that I was really looking for German Autobahnen. As I was reading through I saw that the "Iron Curtain" had cut some of the sections off. Iron Curtain huh? One of the biggest rods that helped form the curtain was the Czechoslovak coup d'état of 1948 or simply the Czech coup. After reading the impact of the coup on the US, I refreshed my knowledge on the Marshall Plan. The Italian and French responses to the coup ultimately led to the creation of NATO. I followed NATO with a Containment, its importance during the Cold War and how instrumental West Germany was to the US, France and the United Kingdom during the Cold War.

Random I know, but educational and entertaining. I have an hour commute to work in the morning, gotta do something right...

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sly Fox (News) at it again....

Much has been made of how trbl #sayitlikebarkley Fox News is. The channel is indeed horrible but it has come up with some of my favorite media memories over the past few years. There was the "You Mad" interview on the O'Reilly factor. Additionally, several rappers have spit lines/songs about Bill O'Reilly, most notably Snoop Dogg and Ludacris. My boy Nas even dedicated a whole song to describing how bad Fox's news coverage is (Sly Fox). Well, Fox strikes again with more bullshit:

Seriously, how long can Fox News continue being on TV?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Felicitación España

Congratulation Spain on their 1st ever World Cup title. Well deserved. It was a great game. Spain played the ball controlling style they have become well known for. They also played remarkable defense. In the early moments of the game Spain had several charges but came up empty. The Second half saw the most action. In the 62 min Arjen Robben of the Netherlands had his team's best opportunity stopped by Spain's excellent Goal Keep and captain Iker Casillas. Best believe the Dutch had they #jealousfaces on. Moments later Casillas stopped Robben again. Spain would squander a few opportunities themselves, first David Villa, then Sergio Ramos.

The rest of regulation went on rather drama/excitement free. Extra Time was full of drama though. Dutchmen John Heitinga was given his second Yellow card and thus had to leave the game, limiting his team to 10 players. This proved to be fatal as Spain would take advantage. After an incorrect call by the referee (typical) Spain gained control of the ball and would take advantage courtesy of Andres Iniesta's beautiful goal. I know that the ref made a bad call and the Dutch should have been granted a Corner Kick instead of the Free Kick but #tellemwhyyoumadDutch. When it was all said and done, even though it wasn't pretty, the best team won. Congrats again Spain, Felicitación España.

Oh I almost forgot, I know you won Spain and I'm going let you celebrate, but you still got #jealoused :


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

#Respect Chris Duhon

So last night I'm chilling with my boys at our usual spot Off The Wagon discussing the NBA Free Agency season. We were offering our opinions on where LeBron should go (we'll know tomorrow), how we felt about Stoudemire coming to the Knicks, and the worst signings thus far: Amir Johnson, Channing Frye. Another contract that we felt was bloated was that of Chris Duhon. The former Bulls, and recently, Knicks point guard reached a deal with Orlando for 4 years and 15 Mil. So here we are talking all types of shit about him and that contract, when one of my boys says "Dude who just walked in the bathroom look just like Chris Duhon." Jokingly we all say "well lets ask him how he got that 15 mil lol." We quickly realized that the dude was actually Duhon himself. The moment of truth: were we going to ask him?

So I shake his hand and say congrats on the new deal and ask him how'd he pulled it off? One of my boys then says "What did you say to get that 15 mil?" and another follows with "right, let us know." Duhon responded "What? Ya tryin to say I'm not worth it? Thats exactly what we were trying to say, but none of us said it lol. We proceeded to ask him all types of questions about the league. He was actually real cool, answered all our questions, told us funny ass stories, told us about Coach K and why the Knicks sucked so bad. We even talked about Tiger Woods and comedy movies lol. Dude was real cool and funny and even shared his 2 pitchers of brew with us, #respect. Speaking of #respect we even got him saying that joint. We told him that if we hear it on a press conference he better shout us out or we goin put him on blast lol.

Is Chris Duhon worth 15 mil? We can't say. Is he a cool as hell? Yea he is, we all have a new found #respect for him.Good luck in Orlando man.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Maybe I will Thank Him Later

Aubrey Drake Graham, or as I like to call him: Jimmy Brooks, burst on the scene last year with his incredible mixtape "So Far Gone." Ever since then we've been waiting for his career to officially start with his debut studio album. After much delay "Thank Me Later" dropped 2 weeks ago (although it was leaked a week before that). So I've been listening to the album for 3 weeks or so and I'm finally ready to write something.

I like the album, its solid from top to bottom. There really isn't a bad song on the album, I can listen to it straight through without skipping a track. On the flip side there really aren't a lot of great songs that I hit repeat for. Only two songs stands out as great ("The Resistance" and "Light Up"). The track layout is good. He spaces the "R&B" tracks out well, not really letting them accumulate together. The transitions of tracks is nice too. At the end of "The Resistance" he says "I'm in it til its over" and then "Over" comes on. Smooth. I think I would have liked an intro, simply because I love intros, (future post) but I do like "Fireworks," it let us know he's "going off."

There are a lot of features on the album. This is the path that hip-hop has taken though so it doesn't bother me. It does bother me that almost ever featured rapper had a better verse than the host lol. Really, Drake forces the artists to bring their A game, his verses were so good that they had to be better. Examples of this are on "Light Up" and "Up All Night." No ones got a Jay feature like that before, but Drakes verse was so tough, Jay had to step it up. Same with Nicki. Speaking of Jay, it also bothers me that he claimed to create a "Triple Entendre" and told us not to ask him how. What Jay? I'm going to ask you. Sorry I digress lol.

The most important thing about the album is the lyrical content. This is something that can be easily overlooked because Drake sings as well as raps which makes him "commercial". In addition the album can be confused to be more R&B than rap because of the smooth beats and singing (I made this mistake). In actually the album is fairly balanced and the lyrical content is very realistic and easy to relate to and his lyrics are deeper than they appear to be.

A common motif of Drake's recent songs (and this album) has been how his success has created more negatives than positives in his life. I joke with my friends that all he does is complain about how hard it is being famous and rich and how he hates it. After all, he's only getting what he asked for. His complaining can indeed be annoying but its refreshing to hear his concerns. Very few rappers (people) are secure with themselves to speak about their worries and fears. Drake does this throughout the album. He fears losing his friends, losing the women he loves, not fulfilling his promises, not meeting expectations, his poor priorities, being forgotten, partying too much, not working hard enough, wasting money and much more.

All of these things are easy to relate to for most of us even though we aren't nearly as famous or rich as he is. For most of us we are starting our professional lives and have reached a certain point of success (College degrees, new jobs). We are at crossroads with our friends, deciding who to keep and who to let go. We are missing the woman we love, thinking about how we messed it up with her and/or worried about losing her because of our new found success. We wonder if we will be able to live up to the expectations of us, if we are working hard enough, being appreciated for the work we do, if we have our priorities in order, if we're blowing our money, and so on. Of course another thing that we can relate to is the way he copes with all his fears/worries: partying, partying and more partying.

Thank Me Later is a very good album. Drake goes to a place that is unheard of for a debut album. His honesty is amazing. In many ways he is speaking to (and for) many of us with this album. He shares his problems with the world which lets us know that it is okay to open up and speak about our fears and worries. This is something that we could all use.

If you need any lyrical references or want to talk about the complexities of the lyrics/album hit me up.