Follow your passion! Words that I vehemently live by. Photography is just one of many, from yours truly. Not only will this blog feature random thoughts, opinions and POV's, but plenty of photography. Laugh, frown, rejoice, whichever mood these photos put you in.
More to come...
Ella Fitzgerald Would Be Proud... I Think...
'Blue Skies,' was a feel good tune performed by Ella Fitzgerald (click on her name to listen), but I DON'T think she had this in mind. The proximity of the planes caught me off guard, so I snapped away. Minutes later, there were more trails in the sky (all gathered around the sun) and before long, an overcast.
I took some more pics, but decided to post one more; in the words of Elmer Fudd- "There's something awfully screwy going on around here..."
An Unofficial National Holiday
Finally, baseball is here! The Boys of Summer are back in town and I am happier than the Kool-Aid man. Spring is in the air, the birds are chirping and I've joined THREE fantasy baseball leagues. Overkill? YES! However, I am prepared for the storm, with hopes that I can become victorious in at least 2 out of 3 leagues (not far fetched by any stretch of the imagination). Anyway, the weather feels as if it wants to break at any moment - though the threat of an April snow storm still looms (not inconceivable), but temperature wise, the next couple of months ahead are usually the best (aside from Sept - October). Here's to 6+ months of a sport I can't seem to get enough of 🥂
Wish me luck!
I'll be starting a new segment on the blog called, 'So Many Questions'... which leads me to this:
WHERE DO WE BEGIN WITH THIS PIC? Couldn't they have come up with a better name?
...Baby One More Time
Aaaah, I remember it like it was yesterday. March 1999, sitting at my desk, working at an internship down in the Wall Street section of Manhattan, when suddenly this song blared through the headphones of my portable Sony Discman on a station called Z-100. Suddenly, my head nodded and there was strange movement happening with my feet. I looked down, only to find my right foot moving in unison with the beat. What was happening?! I slowly looked around my desk area just to be certain that no one could hear the tunes, or see the affect it was having on me. Was I becoming a Britney Spears fan?! What on God's Green Earth was going on?!
I hurried home that evening, asking an old friend to burn this track to a CD (along with a few *NSYNC songs, might I add) and it was on that day I accepted my truth: I really was a loser! But, it was time to diversify my taste in music once more - in a time period where hip-hop had taken over the air/radio waves. Soon, I'd include Backstreet Boys, Christina Aguilera, Savage Garden, Goo Goo Dolls, Sugar Ray and a sh*tload of other artists I never thought I'd ever warm up to... not in 1999! and what a great year it was. Oh, how I miss the Y2K anxiety, Napster and CD's (they don't even make CD players in cars anymore!). What is happening to the world, and what am I to do with my massive CD collection?
I grew inspired by the recent news of an anonymous (smart move) Mega Millions winner in South Carolina who finally claimed his/her record-breaking $877 million dollar prize. Originally valued at 1.5 BILLION (before Uncle Sam feverishly started rubbing his hands together like someone trying to keep warm), it took the individual nearly 5 months to step forward, presumably getting their affairs in order (ie; retaining an attorney/multiple accountants, breaking down bill payments, possibly setting up college funds for kids/grandkids, charity donations, investments, business ventures, future vacation plans, purchases, and most important, how much to send MY way). Personally, I think the whole lottery system is a joke; I certainly have my suspicions and will usually not waste my time (especially when the jackpot reaches astronomical numbers), BUT, that doesn't stop me from occasionally buying a modest scratch-off ticket (I prefer realistic opportunities over nonsensical odds). Besides, why in the world would ANYONE need 877 million dollars?! Give me a chance at winning $5000/week with a 'Win for Life' scratch-off and I'd be over the moon! (it will eventually happen, you heard it here first).
In the meantime, I'll settle for my big $10 prize!🎉🎉 Nevermind that I broke even, spending exactly $10 on the damn ticket 😐. A win is a win. Glass half full.
Politics with a Twist
Just when I've given up on politics, Andrew Yang comes along. I went from not putting much stock into the 2020 presidential election, to possibly voting for someone who actually 'thinks outside of the box' (hallelujah!) and can truly transform America (that's IF he sticks to his ideas - but we all know how this usually plays out). Wang is looking to do away with our antiquated rigged financial system, among other things, proposing a few ideas that can potentially impact the lives of Americans in a way unseen before. I expect mainstream media and anyone afraid of change to rain on his parade, likely killing any momentum moving forward, but Wang's proposals are a breath of fresh air and his support is growing. Click on his name for more.
AJ Walker Takes A Leap
Admittedly, I am not much of a 'news' guy; I'd finally decided to take a stand. Thanks to my grandmother, I grew up watching the news - around the clock - eventually growing numb to the countless stories of random shootings and inaccurate weather reports. Enough was enough. Yes, it was tough parting ways with some of my favorite anchors, weather/traffic girls, but something had to give. Through the years, I'd question the appearance of many news personalities, wondering why so many looked young, yet appeared conservative in their head shots (clean shaven, side-parted hair, fades, etc). In recent years, anchors/reporters have branched out, with men growing 5 o'clock shadows, and women becoming more daring with their wardrobes. Yet, many of the hairstyles remained traditional. It's almost like a happy medium: Hey, young world, look at me, I can wear cool clothes too! ... with a hairdo resembling a character from the Brady Bunch. Borrrrinnnng!
I understand there's a level of "professionalism" required for news types, but we're living in an age where gossip, the Kardashians, and the latest trends, have masked themselves into hard news. It would behoove us all to see news personality types... well, show a little personality! This is where CBS News 12 West Palm Beach news reporter AJ Walker, wins the award for 'News Reporters Who Get it!'
In what many will find courageous, AJ recently "pushed the envelope" wearing braids on air in honor of her late mother (Hi-five, AJ!). Does her act call for every on-air news personality to tap into their inner Janet Jackson (e.g. Poetic Justice) by sporting braids? Absolutely not. Perhaps this movement allows for more women of color to embrace natural looks instead of what we've grown accustomed to (I long for the day where an accomplished male with a curly afro, small taper and groomed beard is broadcasting LIVE from the New York Stock Exchange offering stock tips). I know their are many more like AJ who share a passion for news, looking to embrace their true self, yet, afraid of the backlash/blackballing from a group of people who wouldn't understand this movement. This is HUGE - not only for television, but culturally, and I wanted to take the time out to acknowledge AJ for her bravery!
I just want what was promised to me when I was spending allowance money on baseball cards and comics instead of purchasing stock. BTW, that Superman comic was SUPPOSED to send me off to an early retirement...
A Hairy Situation
I was having a conversation with some weirdo in Cyberworld who promptly said the following:
"Why TF this man got braids? He's not even mid-life and he's going through a mid-life crisis. Never had braids before and now he gets them when he's about to retire? Men should wear their hair short. He never finished his degree, so he knows nothing BUT basketball."
Uncertain if this was the response of a male or female, but it seemed a bit personal to me, wouldn't you agree?
As someone who has oftentimes experimented with a variety of hairstyles, naturally, I took offense, firing back vigorously. I expressed how Dwyane Wade's sudden choice of style was likely temporary (finding out he was simply paying homage to Allen Iverson, one of the originators of the cornrow style in the NBA, and one of Wade's basketball heroes), concluding with how foolish it was to make such a big deal over nothing - falling on deaf ears, of course. Which leads me to wonder: Why does such a narrative exist and who sets the expiration date on hairstyles?
Wade, who is expected to retire by season's end, just turned 37 years old (only considered old in basketball years), having made over 200 million dollars during his NBA career. Does his pay check make him some immortal completely shielded from criticism? No. But CLEARLY he's in a different league. When your occupation allows for you to regularly shoot hoops, taking summers off to vacation in the South of France - on a Yacht - you have liberty to wear whatever TF hairstyle you want. Traditionally, Wade has always worn a "professional" clean cut, so why would anyone be bothered by his new appearance? Most importantly, how does it affect YOU?
The same case can be made for Jay-Z, who after wearing a low-cut for well over 20 years, decided to finally grow it out for the long-haul (he toyed around with a short afro in recent years) now sporting freeform dreads. Jay-Z turned 49 last December. And you know what? I love it!
Enough of this perception about individuals needing a look of uniformity. That logic is completely asinine. In the words of Lil' Wayne - yup, I'm actually going to quote a rapper here - "long hair, don't care!" Could Lil' Wayne use a new do himself? Well, that goes without saying. But that's besides the point. If your hairline hasn't betrayed you and your mane still has a little oompfh in it, why is it a crime to grow it out? Why is long-hair on men considered 'childish and immature?' I find that once you've become comfortable in your own skin, the opinions of others don't matter. For those of you wanting to grow your hair long, please take heed: This decision doesn't permit you to walk around unkempt. You should absolutely do your best to not come off as a hobo. But neither should you be read the riot act for being open-minded enough to try a new hairstyle.
Are people entitled to feel how they feel? Absolutely. But to question a man's intelligence (and decision on wearing a new 'do) solely on the lack of obtaining a college degree is utter nonsense! There's simply no escaping critics these days, especially the almighty Keyboard Warriors of the internet. But kudos to both men for stepping out of their comfort zones. Women do it often and are commonly celebrated, why aren't the same freedoms given to men. Some will argue, 'it's only hair, what's the big deal?'... my point exactly.
The month of February turned out to be a complete disaster, capped off with the announcement that Bryce Harper has finally come to terms with a team, signing a 13-year deal worth 330 MILLION with the... dreaded Philadelphia Phillies. Great news for Phillies fans and those who enjoy sitting in the bleachers; Harper will probably hit about 100 homeruns in that pint sized ball park. Bad news for the rest of the NL East. The Phillies (on paper) are easily one of the best teams in the division.
I was hoping Harper played on the west coast where he could escape the harsh Philly media - once encountering his first 0 for 20 slump, but I take Harper doesn't mind a little criticism having spent the first part of his career in D.C.
Where do we go from here?
Thankfully, for me, I get the luxury to watch Mr. Harper up close and personal; might even go to a few Phillies games this season, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed with his decision. He had 330 million reasons to play in the city of Brotherly Love... but I'm sure he'll say "it wasn't about the money," because after all, that's what they ALL say. I expect him to bounce back in a major way this season and with that said, I have some decisions to make in fantasy baseball with my first pick : )
Films That Should Have Won Oscars
The 91st Academy Awards have come and gone and I couldn't be ANY happier, BUT, I failed to capitalize on the event like I'd originally planned. So without further ado, here is my personal list (in no particular order) of movies that deserved to win for Best Picture.
Disclaimer: The plan is to ONLY list 10 movies, but there's a slight chance I might get carried away. My apologies in advance.
1) Pretty In Pink (1986) - Say something smart...
2) The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005) - My first glimpse of Steve Carell before becoming a bonafide junkie of 'The Office.' I remember being in tears when I first saw this movie; tears of laughter. We also got to see a young Kevin Hart with a few funny lines.
3) The Fugitive (1993) - So, Tommy Lee Jones won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, but that wasn't enough. The film ALONE was fantastic. Based on the TV series (of the same name) back in the 60s, the 1993 thriller (damn! it's been 26 years??) had me at the edge of my seat. I loved every bit of it, rooting immensely for Harrison Ford to evade the law.
4) The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988) - Let's see... I got slapstick comedy, California, Leslie Nielson at his best, sprinkled with a little baseball and O.J. Simpson (before the Ford Bronco chase). If that isn't enough for an Oscar I don't know what is...
5) The Sandlot (1993) - This movie was flawless. If you grew up a baseball junkie, this was/is a must see. Unfortunately, kids these days would rather make ASMR videos and shoot 3-pointers from half-court.
6) Fatal Attraction (1987) - I'll go on record by saying Michael Douglas is my 2nd favorite actor (Denzel takes the crown) and he was certainly "the man" for a good stretch of the 80s and beyond. If you enjoy crazy, psychotic women chasing after wealthy men, brace yourselves. The movie received 6 nominations, but went home empty handed.
7) Wall Street (1987) - Mike Douglas and a young Charlie Sheen did their best to convince me that corporate was the way to go... until my very first job on Wall St. had me contemplating whether life was even worth living 😂 I loved this movie, along with Gordon Gekko's memorable quotables, and though Douglas won an Oscar for Best Actor, the film itself also went home empty handed.
8) Kids (1995) - Aaaah, NYC circa 1995; such great memories. No way on God's Green Earth would this movie have EVER seen the light of day on Hollywood's grandest stage, but the Independent flick was brilliantly filmed; showcasing the lives of a group of teens set in early 90s NYC. The movie highlighted sex, drugs, alcohol, mischief and it almost felt too real. I remember watching it for the first time with an old friend who rented the movie from Blockbuster Video. We watched intently, mesmerized by the realism and I desperately wanted to become "cool" afterwards.
9) The Hangover (2009) - Vegas, comedy, and Bradley Cooper before he started making love songs with Lady Gaga. One of my all-time favorites films. In fact, I'll go on record and say I've thoroughly enjoyed all 3 Hangover movies.
10) The Town (2010) - Ben Affleck stars in this thriller about a group of bank robbers who come up with an immaculate game plan to commit bank robberies throughout the city of Boston. The best part about the movie? they actually get away for a good stretch. 'The Town' is one of the first movies I recall cheering on the "bad guys" - loudly, hoping they'd go the rest of the way uncaught until eventually... they were caught.
***I can't stop at 10. But to my credit, I warned you!***
11) House Party (1990) - Bright colors, high-top fades and plenty of laughs. I remember seeing this at the theater envisioning life as a free-spirited teen who danced and got all of the ladies... until I became a sports jock who ran home to play video games and watch The Ricki Lake Show.
House Party was a defining moment in cinema, showcasing many young acts of hip-hop, becoming an instant classic; a term I typically won't throw around so easily. The movie made such an impact on black culture, where LeBron James has openly discussed his plans on remaking it.
If he knows what's best, he'll leave this ALREADY CLASSIC-THANKS, LEBRON, BUT NO THANKS! movie alone.
12) Sleeping with the Enemy (1991) - "Laaaaaaurrrrrraaaa!"
I'm inclined to watch this movie anytime it comes on TV, and for some strange reason... that's a LOT these days - some 28 years after it hit theaters. Yet another thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
13) Friday (1995) - Cult classic. 'Nuff said.
14) Major League (1989) - I seriously thought I had a shot at making it to the Big Leagues after watching this classic. Loved every bit of this film.
15) The Wrestler (2008) - Very underrated flick (as far as never being discussed with other great films), starring Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei, who both took home individual awards. The movie peels back the layers of the world of professional wrestling and for those who have followed me throughout my journey, you know I grew up a wrestling nut, so it was a must-see. Strangely, I've only watched this movie once (unlike the others on my list), but I remember being blown away by the storyline. This movie certainly played with my emotions... almost identical to what wrestling did to me as a kid. The irony.
It was extremely hard leaving out some other well-deserved Oscar snubbed movies, but I'll certainly revisit this at a later date...
Probably The Most Eventfully Boring Month On The Calendar
It all started with Black History Month, the Superbowl and Groundhog's Day (ugh!), followed by my birthday where I experienced a nagging toothache (lasting through the month) and finally, pitchers & catchers reporting to Spring Training. But here comes the caveat. There's the incredibly lame Grammy Awards (sadly, the Oscars are in a few days), the joke of a day called Valentine's Day, the dreadful NBA All-Star Game, and the Jussie Smollett fiasco (what an absolute mess that case has turned into). To top it off, February is the month I found out they're re-making a childhood favorite movie: Child's Play. For the love of God, NO! That was the straw that broke the camel's back; I'm absolutely DONE with Hollywood!
Can you imagine if February had 31 days?! The world would go mad!
I'm baaaack! Back to writing about the things many of you THINK about, yet carefully store in a safe place. Not me. I promise to be more active on this blog... as soon as Bryce Harper signs with an effin' team. My predictions so far have been on the money just a tad bit. Machado did in fact sign with a National League team (as I predicted), signing with the San Diego Padres for 10 years/300 Million (so I guess my dreams of seeing Harper in a Padres uniform are out of the question, unless, the Padres are willing to sign TWO players for 300 mil... not inconceivable, just plain 'ol dumb). My Spidey senses continue to tell me he'll sign with an out-of-the-blue team. All signs continue to point to the Philadelphia Phillies, but I say no. I'm going out on a limb with this, but Harper signs with the... *drumroll*
Anyway, enough baseball talk for now - they'll be plenty of time for that (yes, I am gearing up for yet another fantasy baseball season *rubbing hands*). Stay tuned for more nonsense. I'll be posting an Academy Awards themed blog shortly. March couldn't get here any sooner.
Embracing 'Old Age'
Spotted a few grays recently?
Do you find yourself reminiscing about being 20?
Get over it!
Is your bedtime getting earlier and earlier?
Join the club!
Has someone playfully referred to you as "old?"
Shake that person's hand and thank them!
40 is the NEW 40; don't let anyone tell you otherwise (besides, why would you want to be in your twenties anyway?!). We live in an age where being 'young and dumb' trumps being 'old and gold,' 'seasoned, but pleasing,' 'wise... no dyes!' Okay, that last one was a stretch, but you get the point. Rather than vying for acceptance from an age group that will vehemently reject you anyway, why not embrace "old age?" It's a moment for celebration and not a reason to take a nose dive into the Fountain of Youth (or worse, heading to the club every week to keep up with the stupid dance trends of kids born in 1998). As we mature, there's an auspicious shifting of the brain; things become clearer, you prioritize a lot better, you'll find yourself wanting to do less of this and more of that, and most important, you'll learn how precious life is and why we shouldn't take it for granted.
Who wouldn't want to grow old?
Typically, I've never been a fan of large birthday gatherings, unless, of course, the celebration was for a milestone year. I get it, 'every year of life is worth celebrating,' but please spare me the old, tired cliches. Besides, is there any real reason for anyone to celebrate an age not ending in zero?! Aside from celebrating 21 with a few friends, I nearly crapped myself once 30 said hello (staying indoors most of the day reflecting on how terrible my 20s were, yet wishing I could turn back the hands of time), and I will absolutely do something special at 40. In fact, 40 is SO CLOSE I can almost taste it. But my goal isn't to rain on anyone's parade. If you enjoy big birthday bashes, have at it. I am simply here to spread good energy, helping those suffering from the "I need to fit in" crisis impacting an entire culture. For those of you who've read my book, you know exactly where I stand on that deceptive narrative (for those of you who haven't, it's not too late). Bottom line: don't snub 'old age' for the allure of being young! There are plenty of 40-somethings who look and feel better than in their younger years.
With that said, here are 5 things you can do to usher in the big 4-0!
No, this doesn't necessarily mean 'joining a gym' (although I am nowhere close to relinquishing my membership). There are plenty of activities you can participate in which don't include free weights and StairMaster machines:
• Taking daily walks (or perhaps entering several 5K Walk challenges throughout the year).
• Taking a weekend dance class (not my cup of tea, but whatever tickles your fancy and keeps your heartbeat pumping).
• Bicycle Riding (I absolutely plan on doing this... as soon as I get a bike 🤔).
• Joining a Men's Adult Basketball/Softball League or connecting with a group of people who share similar interests for a little weekly competition (absolutely on my 'to do list').
Time to step up your wardrobe. Does this mean maxing out your credit card on a bunch of unnecessary designer clothes? Don't be a fool! But it's time to accept your age and dress age appropriate. Add a little sophistication to your style, but remember to keep it simple. Be creative, unique, even fun; find your look, and not the look of a runway model (or a rapper in a music video). If you want to 'feel good,' one must look good!
Find New Hobbies
Perhaps you'd like to rediscover the things that once upon a time you thought you were "too cool" for:
• Attending a movie ALONE (I've only done this once, but have met quite a few people who swear by it and do it regularly).
• Photography (umm, this excludes selfies, thanks) - Photography is a long-lost passion of mine (you'll find out soon enough on this blog) and capturing life's moments is not only satisfying, but quite peaceful.
• Learn - Expand your mind; Learn how to cut hair, design nails or play a musical instrument (you can learn almost anything via the internet).
• Art & Crafts - Maybe you don't have a creative bone in your body, but there are plenty of DIY projects only a click away courtesy of your smart phone. Watch how others create magic. If a project piques your interest, give it a try! For those who wish to tap into their inner Picasso (or Bob Ross) find the time. Don't allow life to pass you by without doing some of the things that bring happiness.
Just Say No!
Nancy Reagan's infamous quote lives on in 2019, but the 'D-word' (which typically follows) stands for something completely different: DYE! Don't do it. Say goodbye to the dye and embrace your gray. Allow it to sprout! In fact, younger women are actually dyeing their hair gray these days - can you believe that? Gents, say goodbye to Just For Men products and give the boot to Bigen dye for beards (for the love of God!). Sporting a salt & pepper look adds a bit of elegance and sophistication to your look, distinguishing you for that 20-something crowd rocking lumberjack beards. Gray is OK.
Don't be that person who wears the same boring hairstyle for an entire lifetime. Men, I'm specifically talking to you! Try to LIVE a little if your hairline hasn't receded and you've yet to encounter severe thinning or balding. Am I saying enter your 40s with a fresh mohawk? Absolutely, positively not! However, if the Law of Genetics hasn't completely snatched up your wig, allow your hair to grow out for a few months (especially if you've worn a traditional low cut since elementary school!). If your hair no longer wishes to cooperate, try growing a little stubble on your face (if possible) or shoot for a temporary clean shaven look (if you've always worn facial hair). Something, ANYTHING! I find men are too conservative with their appearance, yet women make no qualms about switching up theirs. A nice transformation from time to time won't hurt.
Okay... 2 days remain in the month of January, and Superbowl LIII (no, not Superbowl "L," "I," "I," it's '53' for those who don't understand Roman numerals) is only 5 days away, yet two of baseball's prized free agents are still claiming their free agency titles, leaving fans absolutely puzzled. CAN SOMEBODY SIGN A DAMN CONTRACT?!
It's a new day and age; the era of stupid-long-term-astronomical-contracts are dead. It's apparent. There have been whispers that Bryce Harper will make his long awaited announcement within the next 24 hours, but my guess is he'll wait until AFTER Superbowl Sunday - allowing the NFL to have their moment in the sun until the season officially says bye-bye late Sunday evening (what a great guy!).
Harper can wait until the 2019 season opener to sign a contract for all I care, just as long as he doesn't sign with the Philadelphia Phillies.
As far as Manny Machado? Who in the heck knows. But I've never seen anything like this. MLB's free agency period starts in early December; the superstars of the sport typically sign on the dotted line a good month before pitchers and catchers shake off their rust in February. But not these guys. Perhaps, Harper and Machado are crossing their fingers and toes hoping for those grandiose 300 million dollar contracts (though I wouldn't count on it) or, maybe both stars are anticipating last minute interest from their preferred teams. Harper has gone on record saying how much he idolized the great Yankee, Mickey Mantle - though I'm not certain how that could've happened considering Mantle's last game occurred in 1968... 24 years before Harper was born (I'm guessing his dad was a big fan). Machado has shown great devotion to the Yankees as well. Everybody is Yankee crazy! But with the way things have gone this off season, I don't see it happening (God, thank you for answering my prayers). Both free agents have worked hard to reach this point, so yes, they've earn the right to take however much time is necessary to find the right fit. But the clock is ticking...
Final verdict: Harper ends up in Philly (ugh) and Machado signs a short-term deal with a National League team.
Congrats On This Year's HOF Class!
Did I mentioned a visit to Cooperstown was on my bucket list? What's that? I alluded to this in Chapter 6 of my book? Really?!
Anywho, baseball's Hall of Fame will welcome in its Class of 2019 as it was announced Edgar Martinez, Mariano Rivera, Mike Mussina and the late Roy Halladay will join Harold Baines and former relief pitcher Lee Smith this summer. Thankfully, I had the chance to watch each of these players regularly, and though I have my uncertainties on a couple of names, I was thrilled to see Edgar Martinez finally make it to Cooperstown.
It is very rare for a Designated Hitter (an American League player who typically doesn't play the field due to their defensive inabilities) to receive much (if any) love. Many baseball purists deem them as "one dimensional," finding very little value in their play to receive such a nod to join the other greats of America's Pastime. Though the narrative of a DH is true to some degree, voters shouldn't dismiss the efforts of a guy like Martinez who was as good a hitter as anyone during his day.
Growing up a fan of power hitters, it was common to see them consume the DH role; usually batting around .250, knocking out 35-40 homeruns, driving in 100+ runs. But then, you'd come across guys like Paul Molitor (who DH'ed later in his career) and Martinez (who originally came up as a third baseman), players unknown for their power, but had an apt for hitting the baseball. Martinez, who really didn't turn the corner as a player until his 30s, played 18 seasons with the Seattle Mariners and became of the game's craftiest hitters. And here's a stat that I found to be incredible: he'd only struck out over 100x's ONCE during his career! Martinez, a 7-time all-star, finished his career with a remarkable .312 average, reaching the 300 homerun plateau, and get this... he's a native New Yorker! (I seriously had no idea - shame on me).
I enjoyed watching him bat in a lineup filled with studs like Ken Griffey Jr, Jay Buhner and eventually, Alex Rodriguez. Those Mariner teams were fun to watch (when the Mets weren't busy pissing me off). Unfortunately, for Martinez and the rest of his teammates, their World Series runs were usually cut short by Mariano Rivera and the almighty Yankees. Rivera was perhaps the best closer of his era (some would argue the best of all time), and one of the classiest dudes around. Well deserved, men, well deserved. Congrats on this year's class!
I Don't Think He Had This In Mind
Today, we pay respects to a legacy that has almost been tarnished some 55 years after his death. Some would argue that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was the last great black leader, others say he was the last great leader of a generation. However you wish to spin it, I am truly saddened at how far away we've gotten from King's potent words of wisdom. Sure, I can go ahead and list a bunch of MLK quotables to honor his great name on the day we celebrate him as a nation, instead, I'd like to pinpoint a couple of recent isolated incidents involving young men leaving me angered and outright confused. When will some of us will ever get it?
I probably shouldn't expect much from those born into the 1990s and thereafter. If that comment bothers you, I suggest you remove your blinders and pay attention to your immediate surroundings. Unless you're a Type A Personality type who craves knowledge, history and over-standing the way of the world, Millennials (and others) are decades removed from an era where men like King paved the way for a better America. Many will never know the feeling of racial segregation, senseless hose spraying and vicious attacks by ruthless dogs. All we have left are images and stories from those who are old enough to remember that dark period of this country's history. Despite the sporadic heinous murders of brown men by those in law enforcement; paid to protect & serve, joined by the questionable behavior of those who continue to get a kick out of uttering the N-word and antagonizing people of color, our world today still doesn't compare to what many endured in the south during the civil rights era and before. As years progressed, regardless of how we feel in 2019, opportunity does exist for all (albeit it's broken down into tiers to avoid blatant prejudice experienced in years past). With that said, I expect better from anyone reaping the benefits of that same opportunity thousands died for. The same opportunity MLK put his life on the line for whenever he delivered a heart-felt message. Yet, when I watch the current generation's obsession with gang culture and everything else, I am blown away when that list includes multi-millionaires; the one-percentile, the people we'd expect to be above that.
We've learned over the years about rappers/entertainers and their affiliations with gangs. Oftentimes, when you've become a product of your environment, there's really no escaping it - rich or not. But what about when you're far removed from that environment (or haven't grown in that environment at all), basking in the limelight, enjoying a healthy bank account and luxurious lifestyle? Why then would there be a need to become an "overnight gangster?" I felt my ire rise after watching rappers Bow Wow, Soulja Boy, Cardi B (the lone female of my ire), along with NBA player, Marcus Smart, announce their gang ties to the world. That's correct, Bow Wow! I had mixed emotions listening to Bow Wow (real name: Shad Moss) yell "On Piru!" (a well-known set from the L.A. Bloods gang) at the 0:09 mark. Part of me wanted to laugh, thinking I'd just finish watching a comedy sketch, the other half felt like I'd just watch a dramatic plea for help.
Most of us remember Bow Wow (formerly Lil' Bow Wow) as the cute kid who took the music industry by storm after his 2000 debut hit album, "Beware of Dog" captivated children, catapulting him to mainstream success. Many of you us were too old for his music, yet we witnessed Bow Wow influence a generation of kids and watched him grow into a man. Now 31, Bow Wow should be held accountable for his recent attempt to insult our intelligence (declaring his gang affiliation) and it shouldn't be tolerated by OG's - in this case, the older generation. Someone in his camp desperately needs to pull him aside.
Can just about anyone join a gang these days? Sure. The question I have for Bow Wow, Soulja Boy, Marcus Smart and others is: since when? and why?! Why come into millions of dollars, fame - the stuff Average Joe's and Jane's dream about - only to renounce it in an effort for street cred? Why not use this platform to your advantage instead of risking it all, dealing with questions of authenticity and becoming a punchline for jokes from people like me? Who in their right mind would be intimidated by Bow Wow, Cardi B, Soulja Boy or a player throwing up gang signs - someone who attended college, currently earning a 7-figure income? (watch 1:03 mark). Does the latter sound like a gang banger to you? If anything, these same individuals have made a mockery of gang culture and that upsets me. Why? Because they have choices. Their income and lifestyle enables them to escape the hardships of street life. They can stay far away from the hood. Furthermore, their paycheck allows them to keep their affiliations to themselves (the way others have; see D.L. Hughley) because the general public really doesn't need to know. No one cares! In the age of social media, it has become everyone's job to share everything. Even senseless acts. But something to keep in mind when you're attempting to become an overnight gangster - think about those who are less fortunate. Think about those who join street gangs because they don't know of another way to survive. Think about those who have never traveled outside of their city or state. Think about the ones who were born into gang culture because it was an essential part of their lineage, engrained in their DNA. Think about the men and women who have actually traded bullets in the streets. Why mimic a lifestyle many everyday people can't escape? Why wait until you've become an established brand, someone who has sat in board rooms with high-level execs signing major contract deals to suddenly announce your gang ties? Why wait until you've become a platinum-selling artist, having traveled the world? Why wait until you've made a couple of bucks to confidently throw up hand gestures in an all out rage on national TV? If entertainers are so desperate in becoming street soldiers, unwilling to separate these contrasting lifestyles, why not relinquish your riches and live the life you truly desire to live? Who's stopping you? What's stopping you?! In the words of the great Big Daddy Kane, 'Ain't No Half Steppin.' Why have one foot in the door of entertainment, the other in the streets? Pick one. Your move.
The fact that this subject matter isn't discussed on a broader platform is concerning enough. Perhaps, people really don't care (or have chosen not to take these entertainers seriously). Clearly, MLK's "Free at Last" message was lost in translation from a group of misguided lost souls; lost souls who derived from a generation of little leadership - parental or public. The individuals I've named aren't free, in fact, they're trapped in a sorry state of mind, oblivious to their privileged lives, unbothered by their acts of unexplained behaviors, unmoved by an iconic figure's impact to the world. This is more than a "day off" or a "holiday," it's a day of reflecting, as we remember a world we used to live in and a man who took a bullet striving to make it a better place. Why wouldn't we want to do better?
Must-Haves For Your Wardrobe
Perhaps it's a city thing, but I've always been one to take fashion seriously. Whether attending a formal gathering or any place simple like the supermarket. My hair usually needed to be in place, colors in accordance, accompanied by 1 or 2 accessories. Fashion is a major part of our everyday lives, but you'd be surprised at the number of people (men in particular) who don't have an outfit for every occasion (sorry, but you probably shouldn't wear joggers and a pair of Jordan's to a job interview). Don't fret, I am here to save the day! Here are some items for any struggling male in need of a little fashion advice. You're all very welcome.
A surprising amount of men dislike wearing suits. In addition, a quality suit can cost an arm & leg. If you happen to make a handsome salary (and can afford a dozen or more) or enjoy a little reckless credit card spending from time to time (which I am adamantly against), I advise you stack up! Those who are less fortunate, well, let's just say you might be hanging onto dear life with that 1 trusty 'ol suit worn on all occasions (job interviews, weddings, funerals, etc). But if your budget allows for it, the everyday working man should own at least 3 different suits. Preferable colors? Black, navy blue, grey. Just make sure your suits are tailor-made (to fit according to size). There is nothing worse than a baggy suit 👎🏾
My favorite accessory, hands down. Not only are sunglasses cool, but the right pair will spike your appearance, adding a bit of sophistication that'll give you the feel of a million bucks! It doesn't matter the brand, simply find yourself a good pair that'll compliment your face and get your style on!
P.S. Just don't be that guy who wears sunglasses indoors.
Every man should own several watches; classy or sporty. Another accessory that adds a bit of sophistication to your 'fit. I'm a watch fiend, commonly wearing watches where the battery has long died (and I'm usually too lazy to replace them so it's worn as a prop 🤷🏾♂️). If you were to ask me, I'd say watches are equivalent to women's shoes.
Plenty of older guys are set in their ways, unwilling to conform to what the younger crowd deems "cool." With that said, there are a ton of fashion trends you wouldn't catch me alive wearing... but a denim shirt isn't one of them. Gents, you need denim in your life! Denim shirts look great with a pair of khaki pants, casual shoes or a pair of all-white sneakers. This is one of my 'go to looks' of the spring. Imagine the above shirt with the sleeves rolled up, added with a nice gold watch, khaki pants, clean footwear and a pair of sunglasses?!
Honorable Mention: V-neck shirts
An outfit isn't complete without a spritz of cologne (and no, AXE body spray doesn't count). Don't be that guy who's dressed nicely, but smells like a gym locker room 🤢. If cologne prices aren't in your budget, ask the wife, girlfriend, family, ANYONE, to load up on some smell good during the holiday. Before you know it, you'll have a nice little stash like me : )
A must-have if you're looking for a 'clean look.' A clean pair of white sneakers usually signifies the beginning of spring (or summer) and they go exceptional well with jeans, khakis or cargo shorts. Just be careful not to wear them too often - especially with jeans. Jeans are known to "spill" its color and there's nothing worse than walking around in a pair of dirty kicks.
Gotta own a pair, fellas - no if, ands, or buts about it.
Honorable Mention: Canvas shoes
Okay, so trendy colorful socks may not be as popular as they were a few years ago, but it is absolutely important to own a form of dress sock to wear with shoes, boots or sneakers (they make dressy Nike socks in case you were wondering). If you want your fashion to be taken seriously, gents, the days of thick white tube socks are long gone.
Straight-leg jeans (not skinny!)
Joggers (especially worn as gym wear)
Classic polo shirts (NOTHING with an over-sized logo!)