A Hairy Situation
I was having a conversation with some weirdo in Cyberworld who promptly stated 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 really don't matter. Honestly! For those of you wanting to grow out your hair, 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, ingrained 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 guy 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 : )
Crisp White Sneakers
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!)
8 Desirable U.S. Destinations
January is here - the heart of winter. Some of you are set on traveling to a warm winter getaway, while the rest of us are slowly preparing for a single digit temperature reading in the coming weeks. Best believe. As we gear up for the tomfoolery of winter, here is a nice list to keep you warm: 8 U.S. destinations to include on your bucket list. Why 8? Because I felt like it : ) Enjoy!
8) Honolulu, Hawaii
Expense will likely be the reason I couldn't make Honolulu my permanently home, but one of these days, I'll gladly announce that I was fortunate enough to place my feet in the sand for a week... or two.
7) Hilton Head Island, SC
Look at those lovely chemtrails
Hilton Head Island makes the list simply because I overhead a high-level executive at a former job speak favorably of it. From the reviews read and images I've seen, I'm certainly intrigued.
6) Houston, TX
I was supposed to visit H-Town sometime in 2003, but unfortunately plans didn't surface. Aside from heavy traffic and the threat of hurricanes, Houston remains a favorable choice. The city is booming, homes are affordable, Texas is a tax-free state, and I've finally forgiven the Houston Rockets for beating the New York Knicks in the 1994 NBA Finals
5) Las Vegas, NV
You know what grinds my gears? I visited Vegas in 2017, walked to the iconic billboard (above) and promptly forgot to take out my cell phone. HOW CAN YOU GO TO VEGAS AND NOT TAKE A PICTURE OF THIS?! Do you know what else stinks? I accidentally damaged that very-same-phone a few months later, losing a sh*tload of pics. Meaning I have very little proof that I traveled to Sin City. I suppose I'll have to visit once more : )
4) Santa Monica, CA
What you're looking at is an image of the Santa Monica Pier in L.A. The imagery alone is enough for me to hop on the next flight out west.
3) San Francisco, CA
Four things I need to do once visiting San Francisco:
1) Take a trolley ride through the city
2) Visit AT&T Park (now known as Oracle Park); home of the San Francisco Giants
3) Take pics in front of the iconic house featured on Full House
4) Stand next to the Golden Gate Bridge and soak it all in.
2) Grand Canyon in Arizona
I understand temperatures regularly reach triple digits in the summer, but do you see this masterpiece?! I didn't quite hear you! If this image doesn't do it for you, I don't know what does. Grand Canyon - hope to see you soon... during the winter months, of course.
1) San Diego, CA
A lot of California bias going on here, I'll admit, but San Diego has been # 1 on my list for many years; it won't change now. What can I say? I'm a sucker for sunny skies, palm trees and beaches. If all bodes well, I hope to make this my next vacation spot.
Food For Thought
Look at that good 'ol burger! I don't know about you, but I am salivating at the mouth. All that is missing is an order of fries (not to mention a licensed Physician and an irate PETA member). We live in a society where health and fitness have become king. The world of fatty foods and gluten products have gone the way of the dinosaurs... but not so fast! There are plenty of us who still enjoy a good burger. Here is a list of 5 foods that have me by the b@!!%...
A Sad Goodbye To 'Mean' Gene Okerlund
A part of my childhood was taken away. I felt my stomach drop once news broke of the passing of wrestling announcer 'Mean' Gene Okerlund, who died at the age of 76 - only a few weeks after celebrating a birthday. Death awaits us all, but I wasn't prepared for this.
As fans of 1980s wrestling can attest, 'Mean' Gene played a key role on WWF (now WWE) television, interviewing in-ring legends (adding great banter with the late 'Macho Man' Randy Savage and using priceless facial expressions during segments with the Ultimate Warrior - I'd advise anyone to punch the footage up on YouTube), reporting breaking news, providing top-notch professionalism, commonly giving wrestling a feel of realism (in an era where we didn't know any better). Before making the leap to Vince McMahon's WWF in 1984, Okerlund was a key contributor to A.W.A. television throughout the 1970s. It's where he'd develop a distinct chemistry with Hulk Hogan, before trickling over to the WWF at the start of the 'Rock n Roll Era' of the mid-80s. Their legendary backstage interviews became must-see-TV, as Hogan stared into the camera with enough intensity to persuade millions of fans that his upcoming bout was worth the price on Pay-Per-View.
As a wide-eyed six year-old who worshiped the land of superheroes and villains, I knew Okerlund was a class act. I'd experience a moment of anxiety anytime a "bad guy" threatened him during an adrenaline-fueled interview, yelling at the top of my lungs: "Hey, don't talk to 'Mean' Gene like that!" I was supposed to react that way. Wrestling used to have its way with our emotions; the good 'ol days.
The business has lost many greats over the years; through the law of life, that number will continue to grow, but 'Mean' Gene will always hold a special place in my heart. Thank you for the memories.
'Mean' Gene Okerlund and 'Macho Man' Randy Savage
(courtesy of my old wrestling figures - which you can read more about here)
My family and I mourned after experiencing a few impactful deaths, my favorite sports teams continued to suck, and I couldn't bring home a chip in my fantasy baseball league, yet 2018 still goes down as one of my most favorable years. Aside from launching a book, website, and podcast, I checked off more boxes on my bucket list, established relationships with some incredible people, traveled, discovered happiness (what a great feeling and I'll be damned if I give it back!), further embraced aging, and I finally accepted my reality; that not only am I okay with being an Average Joe (in a world obsessed with obtaining followers), but I love the sh*t out of lists! As we bid farewell to 2018, here are five things I'd like to see obliterated in 2019 (and beyond!):
5) MEN arching and shaping up their eyebrows:
The metrosexual male has run amok over the past decade; from skinny jeans, to (fill in the blank). Let's put an end to needling and threading our eyebrows and become f#ckin' men again for goodness sake!
4) Transwomen airing out celebrities:
The Transgender community and its murder rate has spiked over recent years, but airing out ones personal business can't be conducive to your well being (one would think). I understand people say and do things when they're emotionally scarred, but when does common sense ever factor in? Why must the general public know what goes on between two consenting adults? Let's do better when vying for acceptance. That goes for all of us.
3) Employers asking potential employees dumb questions on interviews:
How many of you have heard the follow:
When was the last time you went over and above for a co-worker? Can you name a time a customer was unhappy, and what did you do to rectify the matter? Where do you see yourself in five years?
Can I tell you how much I absolutely HATE these questions! After spending so much energy preparing for an interview; from what to wear, to just about everything else, you arrive to your destination all wide-eyed, giddy and full of anxiety. Suddenly, you're asked to summarize past job experiences, entering an extensive memory bank to include isolated moments in your professional career that have absolutely NO BEARING on whether the current job can be executed accordingly (how would an employer EVER know if you're telling the truth on those isolated events?).
How many people have b.s.'ed their way through interviews? (don't all raise your hands up at once).
2) Goodbye Survivor, Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, Love & Hip-Hop, Wildin' Out and any other annoying TV show:
Sayonara! The novelty has worn off, and there's simply NO REASON for Dancing with the Stars to have just completed its 27th season! That's insane considering the show only debuted in 2005 (I'm aware they've typically had two seasons per calendar year, but enough is enough!). Maybe some of us will be in for a treat come 2019.
1) Current state of music:
Any up-and-coming artist, I beg of you: PLEASE CREATE SOMETHING MAGICAL, OR STAY THE F#CK AWAY FROM THE MICROPHONE. Work on your craft, treat it as a job; as if your life depends on it, be original (yea, yea, no idea is truly original - so they say - but you get the point), and don't leave the studio until you've listened to your tunes ad nauseum - so, that would be at least 1,000,000,000 times in my book (listen to it until your ears permanently hate you). Don't be in a rush to flood the market with more garbage. It's oversaturated. Create something timeless and stay far way from following trends. That's all I ask. Wishful thinking, I know, but allow me to have this moment.
Goodbye 2018; it's been fun! As you all countdown the new year in a few hours, I'm sure to be in LA-LA land (unless my ignorant neighbors have plans on blasting music through the wee hours of the morning - which I highly expect), after puffing on a nice cigar purchased from the Dominican Republic. BTW, make sure to tune into the next podcast where I go in depth on that beautiful island!
Just a quick Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays to those of you currently on the Can I Be Ernest? journey. Its been a fun ride in 2018 and I'm looking forward to what the new year brings. Wishing everyone great health, prosperity, and happiness in 2019. Also, stay tuned for more foolishness from yours truly : )
5 Film Favorites for the Holidays
I usually don't get caught up in holiday hype, scurrying through department stores, maxing out my credit card, standing on ridiculously long lines as if I'm anticipating an award for "Sucker (ahem! Shopper) of the Year." However, I do enjoy Christmas themed films and will watch the listed movies in the days leading up to the big day.
5) Bad Santa - Comical, with enough F-bombs to put any holiday grinch in a good mood.
4) Scrooged - Funny, mean-spirited, yet relatable; Bill Murray at his best!
3) A Christmas Story - An 80s classic; fun, enjoyable, filled with plenty of memorable moments.
2) Home Alone - Everything was right about this movie. I honestly can't believe it was filmed nearly 30 years ago!
1) National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation - I used to be a Chevy Chase nut. As a kid, nothing he did ever came off as corny to me (as an adult, I beg to differ). But slapstick humor is king! Christmas Vacation isn't my favorite Chevy Chase film (that goes to Funny Farm and Caddyshack), but I absolutely loved the flick. It was goofy, with enough laughs and holiday warmth to ultimately take the number one spot (what, were you expecting Miracle on 34th Street?!).
Baseball Will Soon Be Here!
Plenty of topics to discuss, but as my eyes, ears and brain scoured the news, one particular story stood out: Spring Training is 70 days away! (good news for those of us who absolutely despise the cold... like me).
December is the month for MLB's GM meetings and free agents signings, as baseball gears up for the 2019 season. 'Hot stove' reports have run rampant for the past week, as fans await the next astronomical contract signing. Plenty of low-key names have moved onto other teams and a few trades have been executed, but the the baseball world awaits the signings of this off-season's biggest names: Bryce Harper and Manny Machado; both are expected to add several more zeroes to their bank accounts.
From the sound of things, the Philadelphia Phillies are the favorites to land Harper or Machado (the Chicago White Sox have reportedly thrown their name into the mix as well - anyone but the Yankees - please!). I don't expect either player to sign with these team (I suspect some out-of-the-blue club will quietly enter the Harper/Machado sweepstakes or the almighty Yankees will magically sign them BOTH at the eleventh hour!), but as the "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase once told us - 'everyone has a price!' Two things are for certain; both players will be saying hello to nice contracts and higher expectations.
In the perfect world, I'd like any team in pursuit of the two stars to play some serious 'hard ball' (pardon the pun). Don't simply wine and dine them or hand over a blank check for the sake of headlines and ego coddling (we've got to get out of the business of sucking up to athletes who put on their pants the same way many of us do. They're still human beings). Make them sweat. Let them know that under no circumstance will a 3, 4, 500 million dollar deal be placed on the table! I don't care if the owner is a ba-zillionaire making money hand over fist. Set the precedence. No ONE player is bigger than the game, and there isn't a player on the free agent market worth that amount of money (maybe 1 or 2 players in sports are).
Admittedly, I am a big Bryce Harper fan. He's an exceptional player, though to some, hasn't fully lived up to the hype. Despite putting up a respectable stat line through his 7 years with the Washington Nationals, where he was awarded NL MVP in 2015, his tenure in D.C. wasn't very memorable if you'd ask a select group of fans and media types. Harper battled everything from injuries, to constantly answering questions about his lack of hustle and leadership. In the end, he'd eventually lose out as an all-around favorite to baseball's darling - the widely popular and talented - Mike Trout of the Anaheim Angels.
I understand the market has drastically changed since the days of childhood heroes Ken Griffrey Jr, Jose Canseco, and Tony Gwynn (players who never sniffed contracts in the 100 million dollar range), but any team looking to attach the number 300 million to Harper's name (based on these concerns) should be under the watchful eye of commissioner Rob Manfred. Either that, or baseball should seriously consider implementing a salary cap. However, if last off-season was any indication of the future of baseball's free agency process, I expect those outrageous salaries of yesteryear to have seen better days.
P.S.: Any player b*tchin' and moaning over a 150 million dollar contract offer instead of 300 million, send him to me. I'll show them what 'hard times' are like.
As for Machado, he revealed an ugly side to the baseball world during the 2018 NLCS, intentionally kicking the leg of Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar (as he crossed the bag). This, coming a year after being involved in another incident where Machado attempted a "dirty slide" injuring Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Baseball prides itself on being the sport of good 'ol boys and class acts. The last thing baseball purists want is for "America's Pastime" to intermix with the perceived thuggery of athletes from other sports (although historically, thuggery has long existed on the diamond - hello Ty Cobb and a sh*tload of others). Antics aside, I can honestly say I've never been a fan of Machado's vibe.
He's certainly one of the better players of today and you'd be a fool to hold him in contempt for two questionable acts in an overall impressive 7-year career. But one has to wonder about his character. This absolutely matters; off the field and ON. Machado is loaded with talent and extremely confident. No argument here. But I find he teeters on the side of cocky; someone who probably believes in his own hype. Those are my instant vibes anytime I watch him on the field. If I'm a team looking to invest in his type of player long-term, based on the aforementioned, I'd err on the side of caution.
Both players have paid their dues and should be rewarded for their past performance. Besides, I'm sure there isn't a better feeling than having a handful of teams covet and shower you with hopes, promises, perks, and unimaginable salary offers. Personally, I'd love to see clubs like the San Diego Padres, Toronto Blue Jays, or Arizona D'Backs enter the bidding war. I understand it's a pipe dream and probably wouldn't make much baseball/financial sense, but can you imagine adding a west coast guy like Harper (born in Las Vegas) to a town like San Diego? The move would do wonders; giving their fan base some hope. That franchise has been irrelevant far too long - they deserve SOME type of love (I'm not a Padres fan, but when is enough, enough?!).
I've got your back, San Diego! Hopefully, you're able to make a splash. Things are sure to heat up in the coming days; I'll be watching intently.
FYI: I won't lie to you, my fantasy baseball senses are tingling *rubbing hands*
The Latest on Kareem Hunt
When will these guys EVER learn?
The NFL is faced with yet another bout of violence - off the field, as former Kansas City Chiefs running back, Kareem Hunt, was released last week stemming from an altercation back in February. Yes, the calendar currently reads December, and yes, the incident was 10 months ago, but it appears the team took the side of their star halfback, going as far as to allow Hunt to participate in the 2018 season without a substantial fine or suspension. That is, until good 'ol TMZ released footage of the skirmish between Hunt and a female, shocking football fans and angering anyone who drafted Hunt in their fantasy football leagues... ahem! ME! (can anyone tell me why TMZ has become the "big brother" of the entertainment world?).
The cringe video shows an unidentified female standing in a hotel hallway before she struck Hunt in the face. Hunt proceeded to forcefully pushed her to the floor and to add insult to injury, he kicked her while down before all hell broke loose. Despite Hunt's eye-popping stat line contributing to a banner 2018 season thus far for the Chiefs, the team swiftly handed him his walking papers once the video was released, leaving their playoff run in jeopardy (not to mention, my fantasy football season which I can kiss goodbye).
In all seriousness, we have another case of an athlete not being cognizant of his celebrity. Another athlete who enjoys hanging out during late hours. Another athlete not paying attention to the traps indirectly (sometimes directly) placed in front of them. Another athlete who hasn't figured out that no matter who's at fault, never can you physically harm a female and think it'll go unnoticed; not in our current world. Not ever. Finally, another athlete who will likely get a second chance.
Hunt released a statement underlining how his mother 'raised him better than that.' I believe him. Can women antagonize, perpetuate an argument and become the aggressor? You'd better believe it. You'd be a fool to think otherwise. Here's another disclaimer: human beings are wired to react when emotions are running high. Let's stop acting as if everyone can simply take the "high road" after their face gets planted with a front hand. At the same token, Hunt, a mere 23 years-old, HAS to use better judgment. We can attribute this incident as a lack of maturity; perhaps Hunt is inexperienced when it comes to late-night encounters with women at hotels. But the NFL offers hands-on training to their incoming rookie class for situations such as this, typically within weeks after they've been drafted. Hunt is currently in his second season. Maybe he fell asleep during orientation and missed vital information.
I'll chalk it up to another athlete believing in their celebrity; presuming the incident would be swept under the rug - because that's usually what happens when you're famous. But in the end, some team will pick up where the Chiefs left off; he's too talented. Soon, he'll be offered another contract, returning to the RB1 slot on the depth chart. Remember, this is the NFL we're talking about, where second chances are handed out like Halloween candy (except if your name is Ray Rice). But one can only hope Hunt has learned a valuable lesson and this was an isolated event.
If I'm Kareem Hunt, I'm looking for personal growth as a man and I'll use this "off time" wisely. Remember, life is much bigger than football. Second, I'd pray for a second chance and do my damnest to be on best behavior. Not only to appease my new employer, but to prove that mama Hunt did in fact 'raise him better.' Third, I'd keep a close eye on the company I keep around, adding an alert to my cell as a reminder to always keep both feet on the ground (in particular, the wee hours of the morning in a hotel hallway). Lastly, the only time my hands would have any movement on camera is when I'm receiving a screen pass from my new QB, or when stiff arming a defender. Better yet, when I'm promptly sticking up both middle fingers to "Big Brother" as I calmly walk through a hotel hallway - incident free. Give TMZ something to talk about then!
From here on out, all eyes will be on Hunt, as plenty will be salivating at the mouth at the sight of another error in judgment. Pay attention, it comes at no cost.
Microphone Check 1, 2...
If you're here because of the recent podcast episode, allow me to introduce myself - I'm the angry guy who went on a 30 minute rant about a music genre which helped raise me. Sorry, not sorry. Anyhow, nice to meet you and thanks for visiting! Get comfy, I promise not to take up too much of your time.
Have I really turned into that "old man" who hates hip-hop, screaming how 'music was better in his day?' Yes. Do I really hate today's current hip-POP? Gimme a 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin "hell yea!"
I'm obviously hurt and deeply bothered by hip-hop's blatant slap in the face to its long-time supporters. I get it, we're considered old and everything in life is about catering to a younger demographic. But before hip-hop decides to bury the over 35 crowd six-feet deep, can we simply have a discussion?
WHY has hip-hop's narrative changed?
You know the adage: if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Hip-hop's old formula worked to perfection - hard beats with lyricism expressed poetically (whether it was on social issues, or crafty wordplay about senseless gun violence and drug dealing) resulted in superlative record sales, sold out concerts, and scores of new fans. The bedroom walls of teenagers country-wide were plastered with posters of hip-hop's biggest/brightest stars. Fans of the old hip-hop sound have lasting memories that will likely never be replaced by the "stars" of today. Whether you like it or not, hip-hop's best (from yesteryear, of course) are synonymous to some of the greatest musicians in the history of music. That's right - HISTORY. These are the cold, hard facts. So, what changed? Who decided to strip this wonderful art form - bare, to the core - rebuilding it to the travesty its become?
I completely understand how we should embrace change. Everything evolves in some capacity. But can we honestly call today's version of hip-hop an evolution? Is ANYONE capable of saying that with a straight face? The thought alone made me snicker.
Listen, I don't want to hear about record-breaking streaming downloads, sold-out concerts, and the millions of dollars sitting in the bank account of a half-assed rapper who cracked mainstream success in 2018. I am strictly concerned about the QUALITY of music. It isn't memorable anymore. In fact, NOTHING of the past 10+ years - be it musically or cinematically - has been. To this very day, I can remember where I was when I first heard some of the best tunes of the 80s, 90s and early 2000s. I can remember the mood the music put me in. I can remember the reactions of my friends. Fast forward to today? The only thing I care to remember is how desperate I am to find something from 1995 to listen to! Certainly not fair to the share of artists who actually try to make quality content, but hey, life isn't fair.
So, this is what its come to; I'm waving the white flag. Like Roberto Duran/'Sugar Ray' Leonard circa 1980 - no mas! I'm done. Finito! Put a fork in me. I'll simply be that guy who will forever be vilified a 'hater.' I guess you can't please them all... hip-hop has already proven that.