Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Gold Finger

You may or may not know who M.I.A. is. However you do know who the NFL is and what they represent, of course they represent (wait for it) "wholesomeness". This is the self-proclaimed platform of the NFL in their lawsuit against singer M.I.A. for her flip of the middle finger during the halftime Super Bowl performance on February 5, 2012.

The NFL is pursuing a fine of $1.5 million dollars (in conjunction with a public apology) from the opinionated singer; a fine that the FCC and NBC decided not to pursue. The NFL did file back in March of 2012 but many of the details are just being uncovered as I found this information on Pitchfork approximately a week ago. The NFL reportedly stated the gesture was "in flagrant disregard for the values that form the cornerstone of the NFL brand and the Super Bowl."

These select details are interesting by themselves, but even more intriguing is that M.I.A. and her lawyer are planning "an all out assault on the NFL's claims of being a brand devoted to high morals" says The Hollywood Reporter. M.I.A. actually states in a video where she appears to be talking on the phone and to the viewer at the same time - perhaps a very heady two birds with one stone play - that while she flips up her finger simultaneously there are high school girls on stage with their legs open, pelvis in the air. There is even an email address that supporters of M.I.A.'s cause can email with examples of the NFL's disregard for wholesomeness. 

Let's start with this, M.I.A. certainly displayed a universally offensive gesture and this could also be interpreted as a breach of contract to uphold elements of wholesomeness. However now we need to surmise why the NFL is so staunch on getting the equivalent of Eric Decker's salary out of this woman. The two main entities who would generally enforce something like this have so far been silent on the issue, which is a verbal "we don't really care". My memory isn't the greatest but I don't remember much backlash (if any) when the incident happened, in fact I didn't even remember the incident. The NFL is claiming that this damages their brand, more specifically the brand of wholesomeness (this is a word you get tired of typing quickly)? Just a little more than a week ago I heard a player in the CBS broadcast of Broncos vs. Giants game tell another player very audibly "I will mother f'n kill your a**!", and let me tell you, that ain't wholesome. It's very hard to claim you're a frog when you're quacking like a duck.

The NFL has gotten so good at being duplicitous it's mind-blowing. It's the most lucrative example of a for-profit business but yet they operate under the non-profit exemption of a 501(c)(6), which means exactly what you think it means. NFL employees aren't even charged tax when they stay in hotels for the Super Bowl. They claim the league does not operate for profit but the teams do. If one of the intelligent readers can clarify how that makes sense it would be greatly appreciated. The NFL also claims it cares about concussions and is doing everything they can to curtail them, but yet the NFL does not have blood testing to find HGH and other performance enhancers that players use to become bigger and faster thus causing even more jarring hits at higher speeds. 

To see the NFL go after M.I.A. isn't necessarily shocking since they have such a history of showing face, but it's hard to imagine whey they're out for blood with this one. I would never condone giving the finger but as you can see in the video it was quite brief (and actually went with the lyrics) sometimes you bring attention to the offense by making all the fuss about it. I'm curious to see what M.I.A. presents and how the NFL reacts, I have a feeling this may not be over anytime soon.

Performance video below: 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Woman's Work

I'm having a problem, but the good thing is I am looking for help. As a result of my personal fashion pride i found myself in a conversation that suggested the lion's share of the adult male population cannot dress well, however that is not how the conversation started. It was recently explained to me that most women dress their men [when in a relationship] - if I was the one being dressed it would probably make me self-conscious - and women generally think nothing of it because it's a role they've accepted as commonplace. Hours later I found another lady friend and she suggested the opposite, so I'm curious to know where the rest of the world lies on this teeter-totter. Now when i say "dress", it doesn't mean that they literally put the clothes on the man's body [although that would count too] but it suggests that the woman buys/picks out the majority of their wardrobe and options. A couple of bullet points as we move forward; 1. I don't know if i believe most women dress their men, 2. If so, do women consider it a task [something that takes deliberate effort], and 3. Why would a woman pick a man that she has to dress?

 Let's explore the theory that most women do indeed dress their man; there are people called "stylists" who are often paid a handsome ransom for that profession, therefore i consider that a job. Now I can bake chicken but that doesn't make me Gordon Ramsay. I don't see how it got to the point where this wouldn't be considered a job, it's laborious finding the size, the fit, and the bargain. Is this something that women have become largely immune to?

 Although fashion is subjective let's simplify it and say that everyone's style falls into one of three categories: good, better, and best [no negative words like "bad" will be used]. Are we then implying that in any of the three categories the woman usually dresses better than the man, i.e. a better dressing woman will always dress better than a better dressing man; or are we saying that a man is rarely above the "good" category? Although my world is smaller than the average rapper's humility gene i would like to think most of my male friends or associates have at least a sense of direction when it comes to coordinating their clothing.

 Lastly, why would a woman pick a man that she has to dress [I promise this part isn't a shallow inquiry]? Why not pick a gentleman whose style you fancy, seems like it would save you a few hours of browsing [more time for manicures]? And science tells us that the male species is a primarily visual gender, not the female so why then does it seem the women are more concerned with visual appearance than the guy? As you can see I've found quite a bit of consternation in this subject, however it really just boils down to understanding more about the world around the 'Sofa.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stop Online Piracy Act

I actually just became legitimately abreast of SOPA about thirty minutes ago and I just wanted to pass the word along. I'm doing my modest efforts to spread awareness and action where i have the means to. Essentially there's a law the government is attempting to pass to cut down on copyright infringement. They would then be allowed to shut down domain names and paypal accounts and the like all for different forms of "Copyright Infringement", which at it's most blatant form is me using someones work [TV show, music] on my it's simplest it could be a comment from a user that contains a link to a website with something they deem to be infringement. Thus shutting down my site. Here is a link that has better summation skills than I do.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Architecture, Art, and Well-Being

Right around the moments when i tipped a quarter of a century in age my fascinations became more visceral and more insatiable, and my most prominent fascination has always been with aesthetics and appearance. As an adolescent i found joy in creating art although i wasn't masterful at it, in the traditional form; but i could certainly recognize "masterful" and the mood altering presence that it had. My elder brother would draw - what i then considered masterpieces - in robot-esque fashion with very little wasted motion and it blew my mind almost every time. That feeling of visual utopia is what i woke up for every day, and although i couldn't create it with a pencil [not like I envisioned at least] i would strive everyday with whatever resources i had at my disposal to create it with my appearance, fashion after all is an aesthetic. But as I got older i learned that was only a manifestation of me attempting to nourish not only my well-being through visual therapy but whomever i came in contact with as well. You can alter the mood of others simply with your presence, you indeed are a part of the ambiance. After reading books like Tipping Point and gaining a deeper understanding on the triggers that are pulled mentally with either disparaging or comforting imagery I've gained such an appreciation for ambiance. People often wonder why they are able to work better in a bookstore or Starbucks than they are at home, sure some of it has to do with distractions, but there is a portion of it also has to do with visual stimulation of a constantly changing environment.

Now, on to why we are here in the first place. I found this video and it helped me understand what i had been trying to say [if summarized]. As you can see in the title the video is about the effect architecture and art have on our well-being. I really believe in it, close friends of mine [readers of the blog are close friends too] have heard me lament about the lack of artistry in the American environment. Nonetheless if you have the patience sit through this video, i would advise you to do so without other distractions, I think you will come away with intrigue at bare minimum. The accents seem to dissolve as you get a grasp of the speakers so please don't be turned off by that. Simply view the video and then reflect upon your well-being.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Stamping the Test of Time

The United States Postal Service has made a decision to abandon their condition that an individual must be deceased in order to appear on a stamp. So it's open season for all those great living stars and starlets, kind of. The USPS is taking suggestions via FaceBook, Twitter, and of course their own website. All of the information supplied up to this point is perfectly agreeable.

I found a poll on [which they also tweeted] where they extended a virtual ear to the public to hear our thoughts on which national figure should be chosen. The candidates included people like Oprah, Steve Jobs, and Neil Armstrong - which you probably saw if you clicked the link - all of which i think are in line for a lion's share of recognition. The results of the poll however show the runaway leader as Lady Gaga with 76% of the votes, the current silver medalist is Bob Dylan with 8%. To bring this into a more concentrated focus, there are 19 people to choose from. This got me thinking about who voyages across the internet and whether polls like this are effective in identifying what Americans want.

It's paradoxical because it's hard to match similarities between Lady Gaga and stamp collectors/users. Much of the younger demographic uses stamps scarcely, and I'm operating off the premise that this is the demographic that thwarted Lady Gaga so far up this poll. I've seen two stamp club meetings in my life so I'll admit i lack a sufficient reserve to pull from, but each time every single participant was - or looked - older than the age of 40. Also when it comes to sending "snail mail" it appears a person's visits to the Post Office is almost a direct correlation with their age. So if you're the USPS, do you need to become relevant with a younger, well-traveled internet audience? Or do you need to find ways to actually reach the possible buyers who could benefit from this new opportunity?

I think this scenario expressly identifies the problem that faces so many long-standing businesses and organizations. Without gross adaptation and massive overhaul, the only way they can succeed [not survive] is if their patrons advance technologically and evolve their ways of operating and absorbing information. For instance if a newspaper has lost a significant chunk of it's subscriptions, they would suffer very little if all of those subscriptions started consuming the paper online; they would still have an advertising draw significant enough to sustain and grow the company. They would have the capital to attract and retain mavens in that field of work, and also expand with innovative practices.

This small adjustment by the USPS could turn out to be a pivotal move for them, I'm curious to see how it shakes out and what answers we can learn from them.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The End of the World is Coming...

Unless you vote for me in the model contest. [Daily] For those unfamiliar the website is one of the largest online streetwear retailers. This is your opportunity to have me wearing all those shirts and pants in the men's section of Karmaloop. I've actually been a rep for them for quite some time.

Here is what you have to do:
You have to go this Facebook link and then it is going to ask you to like the "Karmaloop" page...which is okay, there is no harm in that. After that it will allow you to vote for me. Now here's the really important information....YOU CAN VOTE EVERY 24 HOURS. I know you don't want to remember that everyday, and that's why i'll remind you, either on Facebook or Twitter.

The process is pretty painless. But the point is this should be fun, AND WE HAVE TO BEAT THESE FOLKS FROM OTHER CITIES, and heaven forbid someone from Toronto win! We can't let the Drake effect happen twice!
uncle sam needs help

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Rook Brand

I try not to prognosticate success but, what a brand! Sometimes you can see what makes people special in less time than it takes to make rice, minute rice. I went into a trance the entire duration of the video and that's how i knew it was worth sharing. This is a video about the Rook Brand which is built by two gentleman, one of them, the artist Joe King, has worked with several brands that were already known to me although he wasn't. Some of the popular ones you may be able to reference include, Crooks and Castles, Billabong, Obey, and Freshjive. However the point of this post is i like the concentration of the brand, they take a lot of cues from subcultures and eclectic brands, that resonated with me because i consider my self to be - by nature - a subculture product with mainstream versatility, and i'm sure that would be ideal for their brand. To be able to have subculture respect usually indicates authenticity, keeping that while simultaneously influencing mainstream is so rare i would stop just short of calling it divine. Hopefully you can now better visualize what i saw when i watched this video, aside from the awesomely startling art and presentation.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Foreign Rehab

The abbreviation of Amy Winehouse's life enticed my usually dormant feelings to snake their way out of the basket. I'm hesitant to say, initially the news made "sense", but after fixing my ill-informed and conditioned reflexes it didn't make any sense at all. Amy's troubles took place in the tabloids as well as television, that's no secret. It however makes me wonder about the environment that some stars with opportunistic lives operate in. Now before i swan-dive into the Grand Canyon with this beautiful mind that i have, i would be remiss if i didn't mention that at this minute the cause of her death is unknown. This is going to be a twisting and winding piece so tarry with me as i am returning from an unintentional sabbatical.

Logic tells me that it should be reasonably difficult for a grammy winning songstress to commit destructive behavior on a consistent basis. For anyone unfamiliar with Amy Winehouse, she had a hard time overcoming some drug abuse issues that became known just as quickly as she did, around 2006 for many of us. To make this point simple [This alone may be my platform's undoing] I will say that humans generally consider drug abuse bad, generally care about each other, and particularly care about people that can make money. Winehouse had a camp -- any Grammy winning artist has a "camp" -- how was this group unable to keep her from a revolving door of rehab visits? We all understand that adults make their own decisions but stars tend to have less freedom and tend to have their lives more controlled than the rest of us. Now factor in family members who more than likely realized she was the cash cow of the family, how do you let that self-implode? I do not underestimate the power of addiction but her legacy wreaks of enablers.

I've read a little bit about the struggle of addiction with cigarette smokers, and it is well-understood that smokers tend to either have or have signs of depression, so often times it's equally as important to deal with the mental state of the person as it is to deal with the nicotine addiction. Here i'll put a little excerpt from the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1990, "In a study of 3,200 randomly selected adults, of those who had at some time in their lives been diagnosed with a major psychiatric disorder, 74% had smoked at some point, 14% had quit. Of those who had never been diagnosed with a psychiatric problem, 53% had smoked at some point in their life and 31% managed to quit... about 80% of alcoholics smoke... about 90% of schizophrenics smoke." With that information i extrapolated it to drug use [I could be wrong] and it leads me to the conclusion that Winehouse was troubled further than what we may know. However, with many resources it seems she would be able to get exceptional help, and that help would get to the root instead of continuing to trim the limbs. Again I am mystified.

Lastly I will say, is there anything that we can do as bystanders or fans? We know that celebrities have an effect on us but is there any way we can affect them? Maybe there isn't, but I think we all play a part. Do we make it comfortable for the drug culture to exist, or do we realistically help prevent what we can? Those are just questions to think about in case there is a way we can help.

The only thing left at this point is the epilogue. Amy Winehouse - loved to sing, but was sent to the wrong rehab.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Jake Davis: Motion Man

One of the more interesting video portraits i've been drawn to in a while. Some of his work has caught me, even while i was oblivious as to who was creating. Check out a little bit of explanation and background about Jake Davis and his work. This came from one of my favorite sites in the whole galaxy, a daily inspiration for me.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My Top 5 Albums of 2010

I'm back with my 4th installment of my personal best albums for the year passed. Once again here are the rules:

1. The albums are selected from what i have personally heard
2. There is no need to argue because my opinion is what i deem to be the total after tax, it's nothing else to add.

This was a good year for music's sake, at least as far as I am concerned. Before I delve into the list i have to do the obligatory honorable mentions. J.Cole finished the year so strong with his Friday Night Lights mixtape [Correct, I count mixtapes as they are the new albums.] and followed up on the momentum his labelmate Wale's mixtape More About Nothing. I am utterly grateful for Kanye's GOOD Friday series, that's an album worth of material and it keep me musically fed all fourth quarter. And my last honorable mention is Kenneth Whalum III, simply phenomenal, see post below.


5. Drake - Thank Me Later
As amazing as i think this album is there is one deficiency, i didn't feel like he finished quite a few songs. He delivered one verse on many of the songs [See "Light Up", "Up All Night", "Unforgettable", "Miss Me"]. The one thing that i feel Drake does better than a lot of artists, he doesn't waste any words. All of his bars are hearty, very little cliche statments or metaphors/similies that don't really mean anything. The album is relatively personal and you feel like you get a grasp of his journey, even dating back before the music; tidbits that shaped Aubrey's well-rounded outlook on life which he fights to hold on to after his introduction to the fastest life he's ever seen. I would be remiss if i didn't mention the versatility of what he does, a major part of the reason he instantaneously strolled to the top; he sings with acceptable precision and is easily one of the better new rhyme-sayers. He's that rare.


4. Kid Cudi - Man On The Moon II
I hate to repeat myself so I'm going to try to highlight some points i possibly left out of my Cudi post late last year. Cudi does a LOT with his music, it's quite versatile. One of the things that i like about his album is that it's really an adventure. Artist development is very hard to find these days, but so is album development. Cudi's albums always feel like stories that you can follow and not just a collection of songs. When you can get in the booth and take people where you want them to go and not where they want to go, that's special. Also i had to give him credit -- which often eludes him from what i hear -- his songs tend to have quite a bit of a message, sans the ones where he goes on his "stoner" binge.


3. Nas & Damian Marley - Distant Relatives
I was mildly surprised at how mammoth this album was. Now when i say that, don't think for one second-hand on the watch that i didn't assume it was going to be good. I just had no way to predict it would be this good, considering i 'thought' i didn't understand Damian Marley. The island influence on this special delivered this to my heart. The synergy these two created was top-shelf, it makes Jay-z & R.Kelly look like 4th grade homework [I shouldn't have done that, as it was demeaning, but comparisons work wonders for perspective]. Frankly, it's hard to explain this album, which is another reason i used a comparison. Just trust me that it's great.


2. N.E.R.D. - Nothing
This is the best #2 I've ever posted, it hurts me to even associate this with a silver medal. This album means so much to me and as contradictory as this sounds, it is my favorite album currently. The undertones of social commentary in the lyrics are sheer genius. I tell people this is my life manual [behind the Bible of course]. The music comes from left-field, yes even for N.E.R.D., but it works so well with your ears. I am convinced that Pharrell has a voice suited perfectly for music, it's magical and unclassifiable. The layers in N.E.R.D.'s music is so much more developed than what i usually hear these days.


1. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
This album is so complete it forced me to move my own favorite to #2. The first observation i had when i heard this is, there's at least two songs within every song. He creates so much mood and build in each song, nobody shifts the music like Kanye. Another amazing feat he conquered was turning a bunch of features into a positive and not a negative. Kanye is a symphony director that organizes the people with the sounds. He put 11 highly acclaimed artist, a few legendary, on the same song and it came out sounding amazing. He does the complete gamut when composing, and i had to give him his just due for just that. I wouldn't be surprised if he mixed the album himself. When i listen to this album i can't even go find another hip hop album to put in without it sounding simple, this simply dwarfs all of it's contempararies. The one thing i can always thank Kanye for is pushing the envelope. If you can stomach more of my superlatives about Kanye go back and read my previous post.