Friday, October 31, 2003

With the last ours of October winding down, I felt that maybe I should blog. It's been a pretty eventful month. It was my first month as a husband. I visited Las Vegas for the first time. I got my first "real" job. Life is pretty good right now. I'm not exactly rich. I don't have all the bells and whistles that a lot of people have. But I'm happy. I'm very happy and I have a lot to be thankful for. So that is why I felt I needed to blog.


Thanksgiving is in November and I will dedicate this month to being thankful for everything I am blessed with. I will kiss my son on the head and thank God for his health and his love. I will spoon my wife at night and thank her for loving me as much as she does. I will work in the yard with my father like we did when I was a little boy and be thankful for such a har- working, no-nonsense father that has taught me that everything good comes from hard work. I will look at my mother, not as the anti-thesis of everything I am about, but as the woman from whom I am a product and a person to whom I owe my life to.


It sucks that we only give thanks one day a year collectively as a country. I will admit that I do not thank the people I love enough. But I cannot change my ways overnight. I will start with this month. Then I will take the next step and go two months. I know it will be hard but this is something I want to put all my effort into. People have given and given and I've done nothing but take and take. It's time to give back and be thankful. Don't take anything for granted.

Name Dropping.


It has become apparent that my blog isn't worth reading to a lot of people. I know, and I understand. I don't have the beatifully descriptive eloquence of Sahalie. I don't have the great storytelling skills that (nor the eventful life of) Muscle68. I mean, who wants to read about a 24-year-old guy that's married with children? Miss Jennyeah had great stories that kept me coming back. She later developed into a mysterious and cryptic writer that kept me (and apparently others) coming back for more. I have none of these traits.


Basically, I'm just saying thank you to the people I know read this because it's really not much. Kool Keith and Leah were the first. Then jennyeah came around cursing me out. Sahalie popped up every now and then and Muscle68 was brought into this blog-world via my word of mouth. So he's REQUIRED to read. But in all seriousness, thank you.


"That's a huge bitch!!!"


I went to the local Enterprise with my son and my dad to rent a car while my car is in the shop today. The guy that helped us looked dead-on Dale Earnhardt Jr. He stood up and was a legitimate 7 footer. I have never stood next to a guy that large and compared to my dad, he would have been physically intimidating if it weren't for his softspoken-ness and the fact that he was probably 180 pounds soaking wet holding a brick.


P.S.


My wife reads my blog regularly. I love her.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

$1100


That's what it comes out to. I spoke with the claims adjuster this morning to see what he thought about my car. First call, busy signal. 10 seconds later with the second call, voice mailbox. Dammit, I missed the alternate phone number. 3rd call, ring twice... "Hello? This is Norm..."


He went on to explain the situation. "Well, we can go about this two ways: You can blah blah blah blah, which will mean that blah blah depreciation blah blah...". I deferred to my dad, since he knows all that insurance jargon and I know, well, diddly squat. I sat there listening to the one-sided conversation. "25% something something. Uhuh. Uhuh. $500 deductible something something. Uhuh. So, $1100?"


Hangs up. "So Joseph, you have to pay $1100." That's cool. I have about half of that in the bank, plus I get my frist paycheck this Friday. That's fine.


15 minutes later, call from Toyota. It's Robert, the service guy. He sounds happy, and I know exactly why. He's getting paid. "Well, I know you heard from the claims adjuster. I just wanted to make sure what we were doing. Oh, and by the way, I wanted to mention some other things our service staff noticed about your car. " He goes on to mention that I need a new air filter and spark plugs and brakes and a v-belt and an idler. I don't know what half that shit is, but knowing how much I've neglected the maintainance of my car I give it the "okay".


$1700.


Oh shit. Now I'm not starving, nor do I have many bills to pay, but that pretty much kicks my entire first check in the ass. All because of that one careless right hand turn. With all this work I'm putting into this shit, I might as well have bought a new car. I mean, damn. Oh well. I need my car back. I can't wait to explain this shit to my wife.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

We were driving to the mall yesterday and we saw about 3 fire engines driving in a line in Fairfield. First thing to pop in my head was that they were engines returning from Southern California after helping fighting those unfortunate blazes that have taken homes and more importantly, lives. In a weird "makeshift patriot" moment, I almost felt tempted to honk my horn and give a thumbs up in support of our men in uniform. I mean, damn. I'm not out there fighting. Not many other people would go and fight a fire, even in their own backyards. Right before I shifted my hand to honk the horn, a veil of Californian uncertainty and skepticalism fell over me. What if they aren't coming back from SoCal? Or even worse, what if they laugh at me or flip me off? So with that cloud of doubt hanging over my head, I decided to just keep driving and ignore the big red fire trucks.


Ah well, maybe next time.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

One day, I'm going to have to learn how to delete a post so I can delete an unexplainable blank post.
"Kill Bill" is fuckin' sick.


Thanks to the great time change this morning where everybody and their mama got an extra hour to sleep, I was affected in a manner that not many people think about unless it happens to them: I was forced to work and extra hour in my 12 hour shift. Around 10pm last night, Daphne IM's me and asks me if the time would be changing back an hour later on that night. I dismiss it thinking that a)I haven't heard anybody talking about it, and b) doesn't that shit happen in November? After a few minutes of asking around on the 'Net it dawns on me that it was the night. I was unphased at first, but then it hit me. I'm gonna have to work an extra fuckin' hour.


It was the longest shift possible. To top it off, tons of our clients were having scheduled downtimes to take advantage of the extra overnight hour and our web monitors were going off like a fireworks show. What fucked me up the most was that as I was driving home from work at about 5:30, THE SUN WAS COMING UP. You ever see those commercials or movies where people go into a bar or a club when it is daylight, party all through the night and leave just as the sun was coming up? Well, it felt eerily like that except for the fact that I wasn't partying all night. So I guess that means that it wasn't like that at all. Uhh..yeah.


I'm paid salary, so my company pretty much has me by the balls when it comes to overtime. I started to thinking and realized that hey, I get to work an 11 hour shift in six months. MUHAHAHAHAHAH, I got them.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Kool Keith is going to love this. The following post is something I wrote in response to somebody saying that the Rap Artist E-40 wasn't "real" Hip Hop.


The West Coast Hip Hop has a different "foundation" as opposed to other parts of the country. What you percieve to be "true Hip Hop music" will obviously be different that what someone like myself would appeciate, so I respect and understand your opinion, Xcel. But let's be serious. Other than "Automatic", what other 40 joints do they play there in your neck of the woods? E-40, though he may not fit what most backpackers/Hip Hop purists believe as being "real", is a man has paid dues for years before blowing up on the level he has. Believe me, I was were in Vallejo when he was slangin' tapes out of his trunk at Babe Ruth baseball games at Wilson Park. And I'm talkin like '88, '89.


But even other than that, he is the consummate Hip Hop artist. He struggled to blow up doing what he wanted to do the way he wanted to do it. He didn't resort to selling out the West Coast style for one that is more popular at the time. He was ahead of his time with the slang, the word play, and most defnitely the cadence. On the way he's gradually added more conscious lyrics to his work making him a viable voice in Bay Area and West Coast Hip Hop.


And as an open-minded Hip Hop head, you can't go drawing lines around what is Hip Hop and what is not. Whether you want to believe it or not, Ice Cube is just as much Hip Hop as Aceyalone. You can't go excluding parts of Hip Hop when they are all the by-products of the same things.


Don't get this twisted. I'm not one of those "Yo, Tupac is the GOAT and Cash Money was the hardest label" fool. I've been in this Hip Hop shit for 10 years. I went from a commercial head, to lovin' the West Coast gangsta style, to getting on the East's nuts, to straight backpacker style. But now that I'm old, I like what I think is good music. Fuck labels. Fuck trying to create boundries within the music and within the culture. Just accept it as a whole and appreciate what YOU like. But I dont' think there are many people alive that can dictate what is and what is not "real" Hip Hop. This shit is only 30 years old. We start drawing lines now and we jeopardize the longevity of this culture that we love so much. I love this shit. I live this shit. When I can can't support physically, I support with my wallet and with my energy. So yo, there isn't time to knock people off a mountain we're all trying to get to the top of. Yo, this cat may not be Talib or Del, but there's no denying that E-40 is a Hip Hop artist
.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

I get caught saying fucked up things sometimes. It started young too. Like about 9 years old. One time, I remember saying really loud "We can't share our house with people like that," as a few of my mom's guests walked into the doorway. The bad thing is that they heard me. I had this phase in 8th grade when I'd call everybody a bastard. It was towards my nephew, you just happened to be, well, a bastard. And right as his mom was walking past the door. I remember watching a b-boy video with my friend and their cousins visiting from the Philippines and saying "Yo, look at these guys. They're all fobs." During my 12th grade government class, I screamed "Damn, Mike! You're GAY!" in front of my openly homosexual teacher, Mr. Ratcliff. Ever use "retarded" on the basketball court while one of your teammates "special" brother was trying to shoot freethrows the court over? Well, I have.


I've learned to become more aware of my surrounding, even to the point of being over-sensitive. I choose my words carefully and try to be mindful of the people around me. But there are still those times where I'll be at the verge or blurting out something that I could get slapped over, and thankfully restraint prevails. Forgive me. Please.


Monday, October 20, 2003

Whoa.

But anyway, I did something tonight that was completely embarassing. While making a quick righthand turn, I drove directly over a median completing my 2nd 50/50 grind in a car, the first of which happened in my old '89 Grand Voyager one time after work during the summer of 1997 when I spilled my soda making a right hand turn. This time around, I didn't have a good excuse. I didn't know the turn at all and made a careless wide turn.



What made it worse is that since I hit the median with such high force, my car skid all the way to the point where my tires were off of the ground stranding me on median, partially blocking traffing going in my intended direction. As I stood outside of my car door I attempted to assess the situation. I immediately got out of my car to make sure my car wasn't fucked up. I was especially concerned about my tires because I just bought a new set no more than one week ago. A truck with two men stopped, noticing my state of complete confusion and offered to help.


Eventually we got the car off the median, and I cannot think of a time where I was more embarassed, except the time I left the size sticker on a new pair of jeans, only realizing it when somebody at school notified me during one of my breaks in between classes. It was though, pretty damn funny, and as I'm sitting here at work typing this out, I'm still hoping there is nothing seriously wrong with my car. Oh well, it's past midnight and I still have about 5 hours of work before I can go home and sleep until Jayden wakes me up, which is about 3 hours. I had about 3 hours of sleep last night and my body still hasn't adjusted to sleeping during daylight and working through the night.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

It was a trip being at a club last night. I don't do clubs. But since Jan and Audrey had a show, I had to show my support. Needless to say, by midnight I was damn drunk. I mean, we started with Red Label and beer at the house. After about 3 Liquid Cocaines and about 4 more shots of Hennesey, my non-drinking ass was feelin' pretty good. Erwin was a good sport for tagging along. I could tell that he was tired and another night at a club wasn't #1 on his priority list.


There were a large amount of familiar faces which was interesting considering we were so far from Vallejo. Seeing the boys was a pleasant surpise. Alex was in typical form with his perpetual squinty smile. People from high school greeted me with a suprised "Baseball Joe", a nickname that has seemed to stick even though I haven't played ball since high school. I was surprised Marissa and Cheryl both said "hi" to me first. It was nice, though. I have to admit, it was kind of fun telling everybody I ran into that I was now married, too.


Francisco seemed a little extra surpised to see me. I haven't seen him in a good 7 years and his excitement in seeing me again was shown when he lifted my 240 pound body a good 2 feet off the ground. Seeing Rey for the first time in a while made me realize how much a lot of us have changed since our high school days. He's older and much more mature than back then. You can look into his eyes and just tell he was a different man.


Jan and Audrey's set was a lot shorter than I expected. Although I wish they went longer I was glad to show my support. Jan's beat production has stepped up, and even though the club sound guy didn't know what he was doing, thee music was still on point. I stood front and center with my arm waving to the beat. They do something that I find admirable, which is they do what they love to do. Seeing them on stage is like seeing a bird in midflight or watching Barry Bonds hit a baseball. It was something they were meant to do. God gave them gifts and they are utilizing those gifts. I admire that.


Friday, October 17, 2003

As we approached the club, you could hear the rhymic pounding of breakbeats echoing in the street. We stop directed in front of the club and I immediately recognized Reveal sitting on a bike rack having conversation with Free. On the street corner, there were numerous guys smoking cigarettes. I didn't recognize any of them off the bat. They didn't look like your tyipcal b-boy types. One was dressed wearing a stripped polo shirt with a matching Houston Oilers hat. Another had a black and white trucker cap, a tight fitting Metallica shirt. I turned to Graham as I pulled a menthol light out of my pocket and lit it.


"Yo wanna kick it, or do you want to go in?"


The line to get into the club wasn't long at all. Maybe only 2 or 3 people waiting. It was still early, about 10:30, and the night was young. A woman selling roses walked towards our side of the street from the seemingly gay club across the way. She was pale and almost Goth-like if it weren't for the infectious smile. As she passed in front of me I could smell the pleasant smell of the roses.


"Let's go in and see what's goin' on."


I nodded and we walked in line. The muffled unnoticable beats became clear and almost hypnotic as we entered the club. It was immediately dark as my eyes slowly adjusted to the lack of available light. I looked down and noticed that the black light accentuated the seemingly unlimited amount of dust that had accumulated on my shirt. As the Jackson Sister's "I Believe In Miracles" boomed through the first set of speakers I walked by, I finally saw a circle consisting of about 20 different dancers.......

Friday, October 10, 2003

James Brown is a fuckin' genius. He is. He really is. A lot of people won't understand this, but he has had a lot of influence on Hip Hop music and the Hip Hop culture as a whole. This shit is so real I really don't know how to emphasize it any stronger.


Now, don't get it twisted. This "bling-bling/I Got More Shit Than You/Bust A Cap In Yo Ass" shit that you see on MTV and hear on the radio? Not directly influenced by "The Godfather of Soul". But James influenced many of the dancers and DJ's in the late 60's and early 70's in a huge way. His lyrics were fierce (when intelligible). His beats were way ahead of his time. His dancing was at a level never seen before. James Brown was Hip Hop before Hip Hop was Hip Hop.


Songs like "Give It Up, Turn It Loose", "Superbad", and "Sex-Machine" were b-boy anthems in the 70's and remain so even today. His dancing style influenced many urban youth and was incorporated into the dancing of the 70's, which in turn was amalgamated into the footwork and top rock of b-boying (breakdancing).


Now, I know a lot of you are thinking about how b-boying is related to Hip Hop at all. Well, Hip Hop is known and defined by it's basic four elements: B-boying (breakdancing), Emceeing (Rap), Graffiti Art, and DJ (Turntablism). The Zulu Nation has recently identified 5 other elements of the culture which includes Beatboxing, Street Language(Slang), Street Fashion, Street Entrepeneurialism, and Street Knowledge. There is more to Hip Hop than the music. In the immortal words of KRS-1, "Rap is something you do, Hip Hop is something you live.". Feel that.


The roots of Hip Hop have been traced back around the early 70's in the South Bronx of NYC. Hip Hop was never really known nationally until the explosion of the popularity of b-boying, or what the national media labeled as "Breakdacing". Breakdancing became hugely popular with the release of the film "Flashdance" in 1983, which for the first time Hip Hop was shown to the world by members of the Rock Steady Crew, whom had parts in the movie. It was b-boying that brought Hip Hop to the forefront for the very first time. It was b-boying that exposed the rest of the world to what would eventually become a billion dollar industry.


So that's the lineage. James Brown had a huge influence on the dance and music of the 70's, which in turn directly influenced b-boying and eventually Hip Hop as a whole. But even aside from the music, James Brown had an aura. His attitude and the way he carried himself had a huge influence on the raw and uncut mentality of Hip Hop artists, both dancers and musicians alike.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Back to life. Back to reality. I can't lie right now and tell you that I don't miss being in Las Vegas. Late last night/early this morning, my new bride and I got hungry around 3:00 AM and couldn't find a 24 hr. Fat Burger anywhere. A little while ago, l was looking through my wallet and saw a 20 dollar bill that was begging to be put in a slot machine. It was a good week.

Let's sum up the damage from the days Oct. 2 - Oct. 7:

  • About $1200 spent
  • 12 total hours of sleep
  • Two buffets (Harrah's and MGM Grand)
  • 7 Casino/Resorts Visited (Bellagio, Venetian, MGM Grand, Excaliber, New York,New York, Aladdin, Harrah's)
  • 3 trips to the Men's Wherehouse
  • 1 rented Grand Caravan
  • 3 packs of Marlboro Menthol Lights
  • 1 topless show ("X" at Aladdin)
  • $200 worth of alcohol for our rooms from Albertson's (2 bottles of Rumple Mintze, 1 Goldschalger, 1 Bacardi 151, 1 Malibu, 1 Hennesey, 1 Jaegermiester)
  • Approximately 20 miles walked
  • 1 free limo to go to the Clark County courthouse to get our marriage license.



    By the way, I'm a married man now. I love it.


  • Wednesday, October 01, 2003

    Vegas? Joe. Yeah, I'll be there tomorrow. Are you ready? Word.