Wednesday, March 16, 2005
To us outside of New York, we just see it as stereotypical big city arrogance. We know how "they" can be like, so we don't think much of it. It's all they know. But in their little jabs at a place outside of NYC, you can see the little hints of fear. Fear of the unknown. Not the exactly your every day brand of fear. It's the fear of having to admit that there is a world outside your one's personal view. Fear of knowing that one's way of life, as great as it may seem, is not the ultimate way of life. Happiness and contentment is not uniform, and knowing that your lifestyle is the best is a hard pill to swallow. And it is from this fear that develops hate.
Now I know that this is as silly, almost meaningless example, but it really doesn't stop there. Think about how ignorance manifests itself among the way people perceive other countries, languages, and ethnic groups. It's hard accepting that how you life your life, while working perfectly fine for yourself, maybe isn't the perfect way for another person to live their life.
As basic as this sounds, it really is difficult. Think about individual relationships that you have with friends and family. Ever get frustrated how your friend or your spouse can't seem to approach certain things in life the same way you do? Ever have your parents tell you that your passions and your desires are meaningless compared to the goals they have personally set for you?
Now multiply that by millions and think how Western thinking countries have done the same to other countries and cultures around the world. Think about how the "Western" stardand of beauty has invaded even the most remote regions, forcing women to straighten their hair, lighten their skin, and shrink their waists. Think about how foreign accents are laughed at and looked down upon within our supposed "Melting Pot" US society. We celebrate it in front of everybody yet laugh at it when no one is looking.
We as a society are fearful through ignorance. We are scared that maybe our way of life isn't the "perfect" way for everybody around the world. So naturally, we shut it out. We get our little kicks by going to ethnic restaraunts and watching ethnic parades. We brag about our Vietnamese friends who brought Pho to the office. We keep it within viewing distance, but not too close to our lives because we are so set in our American ways. We hide our hate behind our patriotism and our pride as a advanced society. We remain ignorant to what is really going on in the world around us outside of our gated communities.
You know, I forgot where I was going with this, but I refuse to delete it. Oh well. Who's the Prime Minister of Canada? I don't know. But I had Canadian bacon on my pizza the other day. I'm CULTURED!
Monday, March 14, 2005
We all go on a hike every now and then. Sometimes it's involuntary. We don't initially intend on taking such a long walk, but we get caught up sight seeing and amazed by what we encounter. Other times, we take walks and end up looking down corridors and alleys that scare us, frighten us, and leave us wishing we never left the house. For most, this is enough to keep someone from ever taking a walk again.
But what makes some of these walks so scary? Is it the uncertainty? Is it the possibility of getting lost? Certainly.
You ever feel like you planned a walk and determined that your path was the correct way to go? You had the walked planned so perfectly. First, a stroll through the garden to look at the budding trees, welcoming the oncoming Spring. Then you want to make it up the small grassy hill, that most of the year brown and dry from the hot sun, but now is soft and green from the Winter rain. You want to complete the journey by watching the sun reflect off the water in the creek as it runs behind the horizon, first turning yellow, then orange, then red as it sets. Your trip goes as planned, but somewhere in between your destination and home you veer off the trail and end up in an unfamiliar canyon.
You feel lost. The trees don't seem as friendly. The sun has taken cover behind a flurry of dark clouds on the horizon. You no longer have your sense of direction. What's North is South. Or was it West? Every turn you make feels like the right way to go, but as you take a few steps in that direction, you realize that you're wrong. Do you stop, turn around, and head home? Or do you keep walking?
Well, I choose to keep walking. We sometimes plan as if we are impervious to change and outside forces. We can choose our destination. That is for certain. But we can't steer clear of obstacles and setbacks 100% of the time. We veer of our paths almost 10 out of 10 times, and we tend to see nothing but failure. So I might not see the sunset. That's okay. I'll try my hardest to find my way to the top of the hill so I can catch the last seconds of the sunset. But if I don't, I know I will run into something that I never have before. I will see the frogs emerge from the creek as the sky darkens. I will see the first stars in the sky skyly emerge from the increasingly dark sky. The journey to our destinations is what build our character and strengthen our souls, and the magnitude is multiplied ten fold when our walks don't go as planned.
I am no longer scared of what might happen should I get lost on my walk. I will just put extra effort into reaching my destination, making reaching my destination sweet and fulfilling. And if I can't reach my destination, I will learn from it, gain new experience, and be happy that I will be alive one more day to maybe witness the sunset,first turning yellow, then orange, then red as it disappears in the horizon.
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Some say he's the greatest rapper of all time.
But Biggie's impact as an emcee is not as wide felt as some make it out to be. People have to face it. Biggie sold an image just as much as he sold his rhymes. Tupac did it. NWA did it. They were all larger than life rappers and heads bought into that as being "real". The image adds legitimacy to the rhymes. Why do people call him "Frank White"? Because he's the "King of New York", right? Well, that says nothing about his ability as a rapper. It was his ability to sell his IMAGE that made that work. Puffy had A LOT to do with that.
I'm not knocking BIG. Don't get it twisted. "Ready To Die" could be released tomorrow and blow heads away in today's market because it was so ahead of its time. I love his music. There's no doubt about it. But I still don't see him as the "Greatest To Get On The Mic", because he just isn't.
You take into consideration all the things that make emcees dope like wordplay, alliteration, cadence, breath control, timing, rhyme pattern, conviction, etc. There are emcees that had and have those skills and do it as well or even better than BIG ever did.
But "Bastitch" actually started off as a joke between me and one of my good friends. It's a combination of "bastard" and "bitch", a two pronged attack against one's ego. So we'd go back and forth shooting "bastitch" at eat other followed by chuckles, and about half the time a "fuck you".
So one day I'm chatting with that same friend online and he links me to a message board. He tells me he already made me a user account and I should be receiving the email soon. Next thing you know, my user name on http://talk.to/niketalk is "Bastitch".
Initially, I was like "Hey, fuck this. I'm making my own user name." But I got lazy and put it off for a couple days. Then a couple days became a week. Then it eventually turned into a month. By then, I was already known as "Bastitch", so the desire to change it eventually wore off. Now, I AM "Bastitch". I've meet a good amount of people in person from that message board, some of which even call me "Bastitch" in person, even after they have learned my real name (which really irks the fuck out of me).
Nicknames such as "Bas", or "Bassy" have even popped up. It's kind of funny because in the virtual world of the Internet, you really become your screen name to some people. If I were to ever meet some one like Kool Keith in person, I'd be compelled to call him just that: "Kool Keith". Fuck, I don't even KNOW his real name. Maybe it's Keith. Who knows?
But I'd like to think that I'm a little more grounded in reality to think like that. The Internet causes a lot of people to act in ways they normally wouldn't in their personal lives. This reprecussionless nature of the World Wide Web has caused a lot of people to put out personalities not of their true selves, but of people they wish they were. Or maybe of people they think they are.
I can't lie. I am aware that there is some hypocrisy in my criticism. I'm guilty of putting out a facade to a certain extent. But I honestly do make an effort to be true to who I really am. Does it lead to a little self-censorship and slightly limit my ability to freely express myself? Sure.
But demonstrating restraint of any nature is a true form of power.
I like how that sounds. I love how that feels.
Monday, March 07, 2005
I'll admit it. I'm a fan. They played that tribute special they aired on one of the major networks a couple years ago on VH1 recently. My wife and I sat down and watched as some of today's stars took their shot at honoring MJ by singing his classics. The culmination of the ceremony happened when Michael performed a medley of his songs on stage for the crowd. I couldn't help but get goosebumps thinking about how magnificent an entertainer he was, and to a lesser extent is.
When talking about Michael Jackson and the molestation convictions during last HBO Comedy special "Never Scared", Chris Rock asked, "Remember when we used to ask who was better, Michael Jackson or Prince? Prince WON!". It's sad, but true.
Michael Jackson's legacy will be forever tarnished by this accusations, whether they are true or not. But I still listen to and enjoy his music. And interestingly enough, so has my son. He's 4 now, and is begining to develop a taste in music. "Beat it" is his favorite. He also enjoys "Smooth Criminal", since he knows that it is my favorite. He requests it when I'm picking him up from school or dropping him off at his grandparents' house. He knows nothing about the molestation charges. He knows nothing about the rampant rumors that have circulated in the past 20 years. No Elephant Man remains. No skin bleaching. No sleeping in hyperbaric chambers. Just the music.
And that's how you know that American Society is hung up on celebrity. The music is forgotten. Video killed the radio star, and in turn badly injured music. We're so caught up in how someone looks, what they wear, what they eat, who they are married to, who they're fucking while being married to someone else, etc. And I love music. I don't care if you're retarded with three fingers and a banjo. If it sounds good, I'm going to listen to it. Unfortunately, I'm in the minority. People want the total package. They demand perfection, but not musically. They want artists to be more than they are. They aren't gods, they are musicians.
My son, with zero notion of celebrity understands this. It's cool, innocent, and refreshing. But the day is inevitable. The day when he asks "Why did you let me listen to that FREAKS music when I was young?" But that day is still off in the horizon. I'll let him enjoy it for now. No need to.
It's kind of fucked up that I'd let him listen to his music, but wouldn't let him meet Michael. Hell naw. Fuck THAT.
Interesting post script to this story, my son asked me the other day, "Daddy, is Michael Jackson a boy or a girl." I had to hold back the laughter and compose myself before I simply answered, "He's a boy." Little does HE know how literal my answer was.