my dad recently clued me into a recent segment of an episode of MEN IN BLAZERS, which is AMERICAN TV SHOW about all things world football, errr, SOCCER for all you hapless cretins out there. my family was overseas in AFRICA and the MIDDLE EAST for the better part of two decades so being intimately aware of EUROPEAN FOOTBALL just came by osmosis. the fact that a show like this exists stateside is a god send for any yankee curious about sports that actually matter beyond our borders.
this segment was based on interviews with current LIVERPOOL FC manager JURGEN KLOPP about his philosophy towards coaching and life in general. you'd think he'd double-down on stale platitudes regarding winning and success, but what he said was essentially that effort has value. he didnt say winning has value, but rather effort has value. winning can be the end result of short cuts, cheating and other unenviable and other actions that diminish and dehumanize the perpetrator, but working hard and giving something all your honest effort is really all that can be asked of someone and is success in and of itself.
even jaded me was a little shocked by this admission. i don't think my AMERICAN brethren really understand how obsessive people are globally about EUROPEAN FOOTBALL. it's beyond our petty little rivalries (YANKEES/RED SOX, LAKERS/CELTICS, PATRIOTS/EVERYBODY) since you will find people in small PERUVIAN villages following attentively along to LA LIGA games on crude makeshift radios a continent away. sorry, our sports don't compare. for a coach of a top-flight PREMIER LEAGUE team to espouse effort over winning is pretty revolutionary given the stakes of his position.
but he would counter that look back on his career in the distant future, he sees the relationships and stories that he shares with his former teammates and players he coached are what would be valued most, not a trophy. any title would just be the end result of teamwork and, again, effort.
i just think that in a modern global capitalist construct where exploitation of labor from underserved communities in forgotten faraway places robs us all of our basic human dignity in favor of social network-assisted materialist, clout-chasing bullshit; that in that space there are some that focus in on human effort as deserving of our attention and respect is heartwarming. naive probably, but indicative of a space i'd prefer to inhabit.
almost like that famous PAUL MCCARTNEY line in ABBEY ROAD where he states "and, in the end. the love you take is equal to the love you make." we all are the summation of the stories we tell each other. go make them.
leave it to AARP of all places to produce this gem of a YOUTUBE series where the late comedic legend DON RICKLES (R.I.P.) gets taken out to eat and talk shop with various comedians including ZACH GALIFIANAKIS, AMY POEHLER, JUDD APATOW, SARAH SILVERMAN, SNOOP DOGG, ROBERT DENIRO, MARTIN SCORSESE and MARISA TOMEI.
i know his insults were not exactly the most politically correct or compliant with our current age's cancel culture, but shit that guy was funny. and sharp. even in his late 80s which in a sense makes the AARP thing make perfect sense. here is an elderly dude giving these young bucks a run for their money. you see him not missing a beat with witty comebacks and razor sharp barbs. its totally endearing. you also just get a real sense of how much he was loved and cherished by comedians, actors and directors. almost like a surrogate family.
definitely worth checking out if you haven't already.
i remember when living in VLORA, ALBANIA during my time as a PEACE CORPS volunteer i told new, incoming sitemates that there were three rules to being a good volunteer. now you have to remember that PEACE CORPS had all these maxims and without a doubt, they were all effectively bullshit. here were my three rules. rule #1: don't be a dick. rule #2: dont be a dick. rule #3: whatever you do, don't be a dick.
i remember going around town and hearing different ALBANIANS i knew complaining about my sitemate, the fact that he said all these nasty things to their face. i had to explain to them that he was just repeating things that i already said to them earlier a few weeks back. their response was "yeah, but you didn't mean it." i would tell them they knew i meant it and we'd all laugh.
i feel like what RICKLES did was similar in that he tore down the walls that we put up against each other in order to inhibit honest communication. in a sense he was creating a shared sense of affection through his comedic barbs. i almost see it as a kind of empathy in the way that the ALBANIANS i knew really felt i saw things from their perspective because i was so adept at mocking it and throwing it in their face repeatedly. it definitely went both ways and it was all love. for my sitemate they werent convinced he knew where he was and it came off as spiteful and full of hate. oops.
when looking at a DIANE ARBUS photograph what you are witnessing firsthand is an experiential document of an alternative AMERICAN narrative from the not-too-distant 1960s and 70s. her subjects run the gamut from drag queens, side show performers, twins, children, the developmentally challenged, the elderly and those that challenge normative culture with their unique perspective lived experience regarding issues of identity: specifically that of gender, race and sexual identity.
i don't find these images shocking, but for those who do i think it is due to the shallow nature of representation in our media diet of the true scope of lived experience in our country. too often we are marketed and sold images that placate our national sense of self, which is youth-driven.
this media reflection is the real freak show. it distorts our self-perception and makes those that fall outside our collective limited conceptions of beauty and what constitutes "normal" as being outliers that should be disregarded. this is to blame in my opinion for our infantilized views regarding issues surrounding sexual reproduction, death, aging, health and even family.
when i see her work i am reminded of once underground communities that have since been brought more prominently to the foreground of acknowledged lived experience. they don't seem that alternative anymore in the face of newer "others" to be castigated and dismissed (Muslims, Hispanics, Africans, Chinese, etc). not to get all BUDDHIST here, but i will be. there is no other. there is no dividing line between you, me and all sentient beings on the planet. it is all a shared experience. to deny the existence of others is only damaging yourself by extension.
famously the historical BUDDHA, the prince SIDDARTHA GUATAMA, as a kid lived in a palace where he was only surrounded by young, invigorated, healthy people that his father the king purposely put in place within its confines. one day when outside he saw the reality of the aging process and sickness and death. his self-perception and sense of reality was called into question and his life decisions took such into consideration accordingly. it was his real-life ALLEGORY OF THE CAVE played in a way PLATO may have not even imagined, as he used knowledge to further his goal of understanding reality minus blinders of greed and self-interest in the purpose of liberating his fellow sentient beings.
this is all well and good, but i know, again some would argue that the portraits of DIANE ARBUS are exploitative and her subjects the objects of revulsion or titillation. i'd argue that wholly depends on the viewer. if your limited scope of lived experience doesn't include these people than perhaps you should reconsider whether it is you that is being exploited by your feeble ignorance.
read a book. go outside (not during the pandemic). live a little. see the world for what it truly is in all its inclusive diversity.
as corporate propaganda goes, ERNIE BALL MUSIC MAN's online STRING THEORY video series on YOUTUBE is pretty effective. they basically created extended interviews with such notable players as JOHNNY MARR, DAVE NAVARRO, JERRY CANTRELL, KIRK HAMMETT, DARON MALAKIAN, JADE PUGET, TOM DELONGE and J MASCIS among many others, all explaining how they came to play guitar and what being a musician / songwriter means to them. somewhere, of course, they mention the strings.
there has definitely been a move towards these types of online cross-promotional infomercials (well-produced as they are) by various companies in the retail guitar space, each showcasing how their product in concert with products by other notable manufactures support recording and touring musicians and allow them to pursue their art. and just in terms of marketing i think that is a smart move since it equates your product with the quality of other well-known brands, in this case guitar manufacturers like FENDER, GIBSON, IBANEZ, G&L and PAUL REED SMITH and amp companies like MARSHALL, MESA-BOOGIE, FRIEDMAN, FENDER, DIEZEL, ORANGE and BOGNER among others.
in terms of each artist, hearing them talk about their influences and how they came about playing guitar as they strum off iconic riffs through their live rigs is just such a sweet spot to hit for any fan of guitar playing. i can never hear enough of "THIS CHARMING MAN" or the solo from "THREE DAYS" in its entirety, no matter the context.
kinda feel guilty for showcasing blantant, unapologetic corporate propaganda, but oh well. enjoy!
gotta hand it to NOISEY on this one, GUITAR MOVES along with PREMIER GUITAR's RIG RUNDOWN series are arguably the two earliest (and most consistent in terms of quality) guitar-centric YOUTUBE series i was made aware of a few years ago. while RIG RUNDOWN follows guitar nerds asking gear questions to touring musicians and their guitar techs, GUITAR MOVES follows INDIE ROCK guitarist / producer / super-fan MATT SWEENEY of SKUNK & CHAVEZ as he interviews notable guitarists about specific "moves" they do that are unique to them.
as a guitarist myself (a very poor one at that), it is often the little recognizable quirks and idiosyncrasies of musicians you admire that make them stand out. its a very cool concept for a series and for the most part SWEENEY's contagious unbridled enthusiasm and knowledge of their catalogue disarms them into opening up about their approach and philosophy regarding creating music on guitar.
highlights include the JAMES WILLIAMSON and ACE FREHLEY episodes where SWEENEY is beside himself and you can see him returning to his 12 year-old self in awe of his idols as they teach and play classics like "SEARCH AND DESTROY" and "SHOCK ME" with him. for their sake, many of these songs have been incorrectly transcribed, so this allows them to educate the masses on how to play their songs correctly.
i'd also have to point out the JOSH HOMME episode as being notable as he talks about how childhood POLKA lessons influenced his approach to the guitar and how a well chosen sharp note on a scale can transform the feel and tone of a solo. just super practical stuff.
all in all there is mention of techniques such NASHVILLE TUNING (JAMES WILLIAMSON), OPEN G TUNING (KEITH RICHARDS), TAPPING (JOSH HOMME) among others.
if you play guitar, this series (which sadly has been discontinued) is well worth exploring. for his part, SWEENEY has gone on to interview musicians for other video series with bigger brands, but essentially this is the one that is worth (repeatedly) checking out.
i think character development is overrated. SEINFELD made a killing by having multi-dimensional characters that from the get-go we recognize as archetypes for friends, neighbors, colleagues and family members we've come in contact with in the past. and then they put them in crazy situations that they largely wondered into unknowingly but somehow with hubris and passion. each show is concluded and nothing is carried over from episode to episode. nothing gained. nothing referenced later on (that i can remember at least). each episode is its own universe.
for me IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA has that same basic format going on accept in their reality, each one seeks a downward trajectory of moral depravity and dehumanization in futile hopes of clawing their way out of the psychic morass they collectively created. the writing is ingenious and you get the sense that the bar is lowered significantly from season to season. each episode attempting to out-pathetic and the one before with no carry over. no lessons learned. no character development.
since there are three sets of real-life marriages represented in the actors that portray the characters, there is an interesting subtext utilized for comic effect that i've never seen beforehand. One main character (CHARLIE) is routinely rejected by his love interest (THE WAITRESS) in increasing savage and emasculating fashion (the two are married in real-life) while another main character (SWEET DEE) who is visibly pregnant is essentially called a tramp all season by the cast (including her real-life husband) who question who the father might be.
its brutal. but that is what makes the show work. it showcases modern AMERICAN life as pugilistic with little to no safety net or realistic professional opportunities. the only thing constant in this show is conflict and, oddly, family. this group is a family unit of sorts, dysfunctional beyond repair, but a cohesive surrogate family nonetheless. they all can be counted on to mock, injury and defame one other. its almost enduring. given that the growing economic disparity and structural racism in our country has pushed our democracy to the brink and left any notion of our AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM as a sad biting joke, in my eyes this show is right for the moment. it both displays what moronic self-interest leads to on a micro scale as well as mocks the development of that depraved worldview from inception to execution. itd be funny if it wasnt so real since we are all living through a REALITY TV show right now. a shitty one at that.
oh check out the songs from the show though. they're great. embedded below
ok admittedly this last one is just genius editing by someone in youtube land.
when i look at the photography of WILLIAM EGGLESTON it reminds me of an AMERICA rarely noticed, not the skyscrapers, monuments and public buildings that have contrived meaning loaded into them, but the mundane and ordinary. a version of AMERICA that is stripped back of pretense and showcases the dignity of middle class exurban landscape of roads, storefronts, living rooms, restaurants and people making their way through life.
there seems to be a real problem in our culture where people look down on those that make a blue-collar living through manual labor, instead placing value and focusing our attention on the superficial "keeping up with the joneses" goals of mass consumerism. when i was in MANDALAY (MYANMAR) and you got up early enough, usually around dawn, and made your way across the river to the hilltop BUDDHIST temples of nearby SAGAING there was a good chance you would see lines of male and female monks seeking alms for the day. their one daily meal which consisted wholeheartedly of food donated by their neighbors. in the BUDDHIST worldview, allowing these monks to follow their spiritual path outside the framework of commerce was a gift with merit by their supporters. the fact that MYANMAR is a severely poor nation only goes to show how dear this daily gift is to the local community. there is a dignity in their spiritual work and those supporting it are likewise elevated.
we have none of that in the UNITED STATES. we have a zero sum mentality with clearly defined winner and losers. when i see the work of EGGLESTON, i am reminded that there is a beauty and dignity in work and the ordinary lives of everyday AMERICANS, even if our bloated culture and body politic refuse to acknowledge such.
his work is a celebration of it.
for me the FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS (HBO, 2007-2009) is indicative of a definite place and time. the wildly popular TV SERIES, which only lasted two seasons, followed the antics of newly transplanted KIWI musicians to QUEENS and their inability to acclimate to their new surroundings. essentially its THE BIG LEBOWSKI premise minus the whole film noir plot line. in essence all the plots are excuses to showcase the inventive genre parody songs the duo had built up in their preceding standup career. once those songs, and their corresponding albums, were all published, the series ended.
as someone in the late 00s who had moved to NYC to attend graduate school at COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, the themes of displacement and isolation and the problems of integration with new surroundings was very prescient to me at the time. there is also a slight undertone of gentrification and hipsterdom that follows this film, as the music is wildly eclectic and relays an interest in global sounds and rhythms. in real-life INDIE ROCK bands such as VAMPIRE WEEKEND were being criticized for cultural appropriation at the time, much like PAUL SIMON had a generation before. i think in the contexst of the show FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS got away with it 1) because they were foreigners and 2) the songs were explicitly homages that paid respect to their origins with an eye for details. with INDIE ROCK bands of the time these corresponding sounds just smelled of rank opportunism and the use of foreign tropes as a way selling "exotic" music to a conservative white audience.
its still interesting to rewatch the show and see how they handled that dubious territory that is the intersection between PARODY and HIPSTER CULTURE. in many ways we are still living through that prism today as notions of WHITE PRIVILEGE and INSTITUTIONAL RACISM have only become more apparent in the decade since. i really wonder at times how this show would look like if the duo had come from SENEGAL, PANAMA or THAILAND. is there something about an anglophone country like NEW ZEALAND that gives them the ability to navigate this divide while still being foreign themselves? just a thought.
for me the songs still stand and the TV SERIES is funny and reminds me of the years i was constantly a foreigner in a foreign land. beyond ironic that i feel that way now in my own country after returning to TRUMPLAND after being abroad so many years.
regardless, great show worth revisiting.
i discovered this ongoing series on the PREMIER GUITAR youtube channel a few years ago and have long been obsessed with it. as a failed guitar player myself, it is fun to hear from the players and their techs about all sorts of details regarding their sound and setup. the format is basically a run through of their guitars and amps as well as pedal configurations and individual opinions/philosophy regarding reliability/fidelity tradeoff between analog vs digital, cords vs wireless, in-ear vs speaker monitors, etc.
its really cool to to witness the minutiae of their sound, even diving into things like string gauges, pick thickness, pickup configurations, bridges, tuners and the list goes on. it is definitely a niche audience that gets off on this sort of thing, but i am squarely in that demographic.
for me their is never enough times to witness people talk about their prized LES PAUL JR, JAZZMASTER, D-28, COUNTRY GENTLEMAN, P-BASS, 370 12-string, JAZZ BASS, DOBRO TRICONE, 4003 BASS, WHITE FALCON or TELECASTER. or for that matter any variety of high-gain amplifier models like the DUAL RECTIFIER (BLINK 182, PENNYWISE), JCM 800 (SLAYER, JUDAS PRIEST), ROCKERVERB 100 (MASTODON), HIWATT CP103 (THE WHO), 5150 (VAN HALEN), JMP 2204 (AC/DC), SHIVA (ALICE IN CHAINS, TOOL), BE100 (ALICE IN CHAINS), VH4 (TOOL), CENTURY 200 (PANTERA, WHITE ZOMBIE), UBERSCHALL (TOOL) or a MARK IIC+ (early METALLICA)
whats also interesting over time is witnessing firsthand the trend towards digital amp profilers and modelers like the HELIX, KEMPER and especially the AXE FX which allows their setup to be easily transportable (like hand carry-on in a plane easy) as well as more consistent given that traditional tube amplifiers require maintenance from time to time depending on weather, humidity conditions.
you really get a sense of how and why guitar and bass musicians and those that support them utilize the gear they do on tour. you also get a clear "inside baseball" perspective on how they view these numerous tradeoff decisions every musician has to make, and they all have differing opinions. its basically required viewing for anyone interested in gear used by rock bands.
anyway, if you're interested definitely check out the examples i embedded below (these don't even scratch the surface of the total playlist linked HERE).
i remember when i was student teaching at BROOKLYN TECH almost a decade ago i had to film myself instructing students to later be dissected by my counterparts at TEACHERS COLLEGE COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY as part of my masters program. there was all this focus on presence and persona and clarity of instruction, etc. i was so caught up with that in mind that i got nervous a week later when the assistant principal walked in and saw a room full of students quietly reading and writing at their desks. she walked up to me in this silent space and said "there's a lot of action going on right now." and there was.
thats kind of how i felt when i first saw the work of noted PERSIAN artist/photographer/filmmaker SHIRIN NESHAT, her subjects emoted a depth and feeling that transcended their austere, silent poses.
if you look at early MUSLIM artwork, before they made the conscious decision against realism/naturalism in favor of calligraphy on religious grounds, there was a focus on the natural world. being surrounded by desert, depictions of heaven, as exemplified by the famous mosaics at the GREAT MOSQUE OF DAMASCUS, is a bountiful oasis with lush vegetation, plump fruits and blooming trees. like arable land, women are viewed as a resource subject to being protected, adored and objectified.
NESHAT's focus on feet, hands and eyes makes sense in that there is a cultural fetish on these exposed parts of the body when wearing an abaya and burqa much like the west have fetishized a women's' breasts, legs and backside. i saw this firsthand when attending school and later teaching in KUWAIT when we had cultural ministers visiting schools to make sure shirts and skirts were long enough in the classroom. very interesting indeed.
i remember my senior year in CALIFORNIA visiting the cadaver lab at UC DAVIS on a high school ANATOMY class trip and the parts of the body that they specifically covered were the eyes, hands and feet. apparently people faint at seeing those as they make the corpse feel "human." there is a power to those objects, thats all im saying.
what is interesting about NESHAT's work is that she takes PERSIAN calligraphy and contextualizes the female form into a sacred text. the melding of the sacred and the profane, the natural and the spiritual, the silent and the spoken. its powerful and thought-provoking and very much makes you consider your cultural baggage and preconceptions regarding the femininity of the other, in this case IRAN and SHI'A MUSLIM culture. there are depictions of a wide range of women, young and old, militant and praying, subdued and mysterious; all valid.
i find her work compelling and challenging and welcome others to explore it. a good companion piece to this subject is EDWARD SAID's post-colonial masterwork ORIENTALISM (PANTHEON, 1978) which examines the west's projections of exoticism and otherness to the outside world in order inoculate itself from exposure to new ideas that may complicate their need to dominate. fits in perfectly with this subject matter. enjoy.
back during my teaching days i always liked to construct a classroom environment that was pointing outwards. this included the posting of quotes and pictures throughout the room by the requisite poets, authors and philosophers (i was an ENGLISH teacher), but also architects, artists, mathematicians, comedians and scientists. my argument was they all had to communicate effectively to do their jobs so why wouldn't they be welcome in my learning environment.
the ENGLISH canon by default is often full of dead white guys. im sure you can name them. hell, some of them i greatly admire (F. SCOTT FITZGERALD, HERMAN MELVILLE, OSCAR WILDE, ERNEST HEMINGWAY, etc.). what most people don't know is that in the early 20th century when literature became a formalized subject (no longer reading and writing), there grew an institutional need to come up with a list of "great books" to be instituted as canonical. being that most of these list builders were white, the list is pretty white. sadly that list persists to date in some form or another and to vary from it meant that on some level parents felt you were depriving their children. ugh. i really hated that part of my job.
my thought if forced to teach those books was to always complicate them with takes and perspectives that were beyond that of the original author. i also wanted to familiarize my students with interesting people that were beyond the curriculum and beyond literature in general.
one of the favorites of students over the years was the now-deceased IRAQI-born BRITISH architect ZAHA HADID. her architecture was fluid and often blurred the lines between eastern and western forms as well as the very notion of inside and outside spaces. her buildings were the go to if i was trying to teach about GESTALT PSYCHOLOGY or even positive and negative space (i.e. what is the author leaving out?).
its interesting because her buildings were almost a RORSCHACH TEST for how sexist the culture i was currently living in. in KUWAIT, they boys couldn't believe that these impressive and endlessly inventive modern forms could be the work of a woman. there obviously must be some mistake. the KUWAITI and JORDANIAN girls there just silently beamed with pride. stirring the pot is what i did. got them thinking.
other places like ALBANIA, VENEZUELA, MYANMAR and JAPAN had no issue seeing seeing her work as being that of a woman. not in the slightest. they were more interested in how these architectural forms were used. what was their function? what would it be like to live, work or attend an event at such a special space.
sadly HADID passed on a few years back and i have since left teaching, but i still admire her work and the fact that her architectural forms still seem fresh to me and were incredible useful to my former students to think outside the box.
literally. none of her buildings resembled a box. maybe one that melted.
as a white dude i'm careful not to overstep my bounds and pass judgement on another culture. buts thats not to say i can't appreciate someone from that community doing so, which is basically what THE BOONDOCKS (CARTOON NETWORK, 2005-2014) animated series on ADULT SWIM was for the AFRICAN-AMERICAN community during its initial run of four seasons. in my estimation, this series (which is based on show creator AARON MCGRUDER's syndicated comic strip of the same name) is one of the most intelligent extended examinations of society in the animated genre, only rivaled by SOUTH PARK.
first off, its more than obvious the amount of love MCGRUDER has for his community. just the sheer scope of the animated world he created, with several characters designed to showcase the fault-lines in his community, whether they be along traditional economic and generational divides or rival gangs/rap cliques that resemble each other more than they don't, each episode is a vignette of sorts into some aspect of examined daily life through the eyes of a black child.
and that childlike perspective is the real genius of the show. where other shows (THE SIMPSONS, FAMILY GUY) use children as props ineffective in affecting change in their communities, THE BOONDOCKS instead utilizes young brothers HUEY and RILEY FREEMAN as two young black boys attempting to figure out how to assimilate into AMERICAN culture after moving in with their grandfather into a white suburban neighborhood. their trials in making sense of black culture and establishing their own identity mirror that of the broader community as well.
could not recommend this show any stronger. just don't be an idiot and think that the language they used gives you permission to do so as well. sorry, doesnt work like that STATEN ISLAND, no matter what contrived justification you attempt to make. its called white privilege.
cover by nacrowe
if you were ever a fan of the animated series SEALAB 2021 (CARTOON NETWORK/ADULT SWIM) or ARCHER (FX) then you are pretty much beholden to seek out its more insane antecedent FRISKY DINGO (CARTOON NETWORK/ADULT SWIM).
the show deals with a would-be hapless super villain named KILLFACE who is hellbent on enslaving the people of earth if he can just get over his complete incompetence and terrible people skills. there is also a playboy tycoon/superhero named XANDER CREWS/AWESOME-X that can't support his fighting force the X-TACLES after conquering the last of his villains. much like ARCHER deals with the mundane internal paper-pushing business of being an international super-spy, FRISKY DINGO equally finds humor mined from efficient PR strategies and the business implications of being too good at your job of being a superhero. basically, FRISKY DINGO takes the superhero construct to its logical conclusion and mines it for all its worth comedically.
unlike ARCHER, FRISKY DINGO has basically little to no character development and an ever expanding internal network of inside jokes and catch phrases. in fact the whole show just seems to be an excuse to expand on these in unexpected situations. the plot is minuscule and largely not the point. whether or not KILLFACE is successful is not the point. his futile efforts in organizational management and networking allies in his evil deeds is far more interesting. perhaps this is why this show was killed off after its second season, a blunder not made in the aforementioned follow-up series ARCHER, which uses its characters to parody a myriad of films, locations and tv shows.
but i prefer FRISKY DINGO for its almost MONTY PYTHON level of insanity and ever shifting plot points to no avail. it was quite the ride.
parody by nacrowe
since returning stateside roughly three years ago after teaching and living overseas for over eight years i was unceremoniously introduced to the new generation of HIP HOP which left me largely underwhelmed. gone where the clever lyricism and focus on the community that seemed emblematic of the 80S & 90s artists i grew up on (A TRIBE CALLED QUEST, TUPAC, PUBLIC ENEMY, DE LA SOUL, N.W.A.). in its place was a new class more driven by the politics of hype, branding, self-aggrandizement and the goal of personal financial security.
one bright spot was discovering idiosyncratic videographer COLE BENNETT and his LYRICAL LEMONADE channel on YOUTUBE that showcased (mostly) upcoming talent of note with his inspired, conked-out visuals.
i invite you to check out his channel and dive into his clever visual aesthetic.
i wrote this the day after the untimely passing of KOBE BRYANT and his daughter to be published at some undecided point in the future:
i have written before here on this blog about my formative experiences playing basketball at a young age and the undue pressures i saw being placed on my peers. i even had the opportunity in 6th grade to relate such to KURT RAMBIS at a league event (link to that entry HERE).
one of the aspects of BRYANT's post-playing career i admired was his advocacy against the growing tracking of young athletes. more and more for promising young athletes they are put in high pressure situations with coaches and leagues designed to garner attention of prominent college coaches and thereafter a route to the NBA. it was BRYANT's belief that such a system was destructive to the players and the game as a whole as it deprived the ability to experience being a kid and growing up in a non-professional environment.
as a THIRD CULTURE KID growing up in ITALY, BRYANT was lucky enough to experience basketball from his father, a journeyman professional basketball player, as well as take in the native soccer/football. these experiences informed his preparation and view of possible moves (especially footwork) down the line and in turn, his legacy crosses over into the realm of EUROPEAN FOOTBALL as well. its quite incredible.
i guess the point is that being a child means being given the opportunity to develop and be nurtured and given the opportunity to try different things. that seemed from what i read, to be the point of his academy. it wasn't so much a basketball camp as it was a leadership academy, where participants could develop the discipline and curiosity needed to excel at anything, basketball included.
the fact that he was using his name and legacy to help combat and transform children's athletics in southern CALIFORNIA is something i respect immensely. it very much reminds me of how my own parents navigated my early forays into competitive sports, they taught me that lessons learned in games were transferrable to real life. and i know for a fact that message was lost on my peers and their parents growing up.
safe travels KOBE. rest in peace.