Friday, July 30, 2010

What Inspires Me? (Music)

"Music is the air I breathe, the prayer I leave" - Talib Kweli said one of the best lyrics describing how people love music. Good music sticks to your rib and reminds you of the moment when you heard it.

But before this goes into a deep love affair, let's get to Part 3 of my inspirations. These are the artists that have inspired me the most because they resonate with me and speak to me.

(Note: These aren't all my favorite artists and I left some out intentionally. These are just the ones who left a mark on me in the most way)

(A Tribe Called Quest - A reminder to be yourself and "never follow someone else because opinions are like voices we all have a different kind")

(Little Brother - No group impacted me more this decade. "Dope rhymes, dope beats, what more could they want?" Saw them twice and were reminded why I love hip-hop.)

(Public Enemy - Thanks for teaching me to fight the power and not believe the hype. )

(Red Hot Chili Peppers - Thanks for reppin the City I live in, The City of Angels. )

(Prince - doing it all and doing it oh so well. A creative genius who remains a purist)

(Nas - "It aint hard to tell, I excel and prevail." Simple reason why he's the best.)

(Rage Against the Machine - They remind me never to be comfortable and always fight for my beliefs along with injustice.)

(Kirk Franklin - For updating gospel music in my era without watering down its message, he's a reason I believe gospel music will always stays fresh musically. )

(Jimi Hendrix - A reminder that creativity knows no bounds)

(Incubus - Lyrically beautiful/thought provoking, musically challenging. California goodness)

(Ice Cube - You Know How He Does It. One of the best writers/storytellers in hip-hop and a reminder that being real means speaking your mind. Favorite album of his.)

(dc Talk - Showed me Christian music isn't soft and poppy as well never being afraid to evolve without compromise. Christian music needs to challenge its audience while uplifting them.)

(Kanye West - I hate what he's become but every now and then, he reminds me why his songs relate to me like they did on this album.)

(The Clash - Working Class Heroes who inspire me to stay vigilant)

(OutKast - Thank you for reminding me that the South always has something to say)

Next up: Places.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What Inspires Me? (Ideals/Things)

This is Part 2 of letting you the readers discover what makes me tick. Sometimes we are inspired not by someone but by ideals we hold dear to our heart. These are mine.

Passion - My last semester of college, I took a leadership class that was designed to help us seniors discover what made us passionate in order to refine our goals for being in the real world. No matter what we did, we had to find what we cared about and not let go of it.

This drives me everyday. The passion to be a great writer. Not just about sports but about myself, my times and those around me. Everything I do in life has to be something I care about and occasionally my heart is on my sleeve.

Every time I discover something new, I jump full steam into it. History, video games, music, schoolwork, whatever. I'm passionate about the things and friends who matter to me and that passion will one day drive me once again into a beautiful relationship with someone.

Dreams - I'm no Sigmund Freud but I believe dreams say a lot about us. I love analyzing them when friends tell me about them and it's no surprise that one of my favorite Bible characters is Daniel, a man who saw visions.

Before anyone can see anything for me, I have to follow my own dreams. I used to live in a world of ideals, dreaming of what a girlfriend, college, journalism and growing up would be. When I got to college, I realized that reality doesn't go according to plan and I had to mesh my dreams with what I saw and experienced.

That's why Inception has such a big effect on me - I'm fascinated by the psychology of a dream state as well as the ideas that come to us there.

Now I believe that meshing dreams with reality is the best way to be. But I still dream on, reflecting on my past, wondering about my future while living in my present.

Nature - Something about in God's Grandeur is peaceful. The trees, the birds, the sky. The world mostly untampered by us. If you ever get to take a retreat in the woods, do it.

The Journey/The Process - Too often we celebrate the goal instead of appreciate the process to get somewhere. If school taught me anything, you don't enjoy graduation until you look at how you got there. Even when I was little, I liked challenges and if I couldn't figure it out right away, I'd keep trying after some time.

Embrace the struggle and the potential for growth. That's what I've learned/applied all my life. Like the Ataris said, "Being grown up isn't half as fun as growing up"

History - Those who fail to know their past are doomed to repeat it. I've been a fan of history since I was a kid just wanting to know all of the Presidents and state capitals. Maybe it was reading those encyclopedias but I got started early and often. I had a 5th grade teacher who helped develop that love and it blossomed in high school and college.

If you don't know your past, you won't understand your present or help change your future

Satisfaction - I once wrote about how I chase this instead of perfection. Instead of chasing an ideal that you will never reach, search to be satisfied in accomplishing your best and finding imperfect people who will be your closest friends. This is different than settling - settling mean happy with getting by. Satisfied means striving for perfection and accepting that although you won't reach it, you still accomplish a lot.

Sunsets - You haven't lived until you've seen a sunset in San Diego. And you really haven't lived til you stood on the shore of a beach and watched it up close with the waves crashing at your feet. I've been inspired by many a poem because of it.

It's interesting. In New York, the sun sets and you can still see it setting nearly an hour as it makes it way around the country. In Seattle, the sun doesn't set til almost 10 in the summer. Blows my mind.

Faith - It's my inspiration that I try to tap into more every day. Without faith or hope, I feel like my life is meaningless.

Next up, Music.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What Inspires Me? (Literature)

As I said in my last post, I'm devoting this week to sharing with you what inspires me. When I talked with my buddy Jesus about his album collage that inspired me, I realized that I have a chance to show what makes me tick. Here goes nothing.

I graduated with an English degree so it's no surprise that classic literature and books have been a big part of my life. As long as I can remember, I've always read books. I read the 1992 Encyclopedia Brittanica for fun and when I switched schools in 94, I always checked out like 10 books from the library at a time whenever we went.

Here's the authors and books that inspired me as a writer and had an effect on me.

Almost a given for anyone who reads this. Malcolm X is the most misunderstood figure of the 20th century and this book lets you know exactly what he was thinking. It made me realize that true leadership is relating to as many people as you can behind the common good. It awakened my consciousness.

There's a reason why Malcolm is still a compelling figure 45 years after his death. He was a self-made leader who didn't run from his flaws but rose above his situation to be an advocate for his people. This book made me appreciate him and inspired me to see the struggle differently.

That summer before 5th grade, my summer camp read the book and performed the music from "Oliver!" - I love every minute of it and today, it's one of the few musicals I will admit to liking. But I loved reading about Oliver's adventures and as I got older, his honesty, love and desire to find a home is something anyone can enjoy.

It's also Charles Dickens' first masterpiece. A novel that exposed the dark London underworld, child labor and the class disparity that reigned during Victorian England. At the time, it was unlike few novels in that it sympathized criminals along with the nobility and had a child as its main character. It set the stage for Dickens' gift of storytelling, empathy (esp. for kids) and expanded his knack for complex characters and social critique. My favorite book by one of my favorite authors.

Along with Oliver Twist, this is my favorite book. I read it in high school after I wrote a paper on Nathaniel Hawthorne and I fell in love with it right away. The imagery, the symbolism, the secrets and the dark nature mixed with hope drew me in and I haven't let it go nearly 10 years later.

I foolishly said that Hawthorne was the greatest writer ever back then. He wrote about his times and their past so well with such powerful imagery that I didn't believe anyone could master him. Of course now, I stick to the idea that Hawthorne is one of the greatest American writers ever.

The message of guilt and redemption have stuck with me as well. It reminds me that no matter what someone does, they can redeem their identity. The first American Gothic novel, it is Hawthorne's masterpiece and makes me ponder my faith and philosophy in so many ways.

Hawthorne believed very much in the Gothic ideal of the past being alive with us. It's also in his other book "House of 7 Gables" and as someone who believes history is always teaching us, it reminds me never to forget the past.

The past three shaped me in my elementary and high school years. Perhaps no author shaped me in my college years than James Baldwin and even though I had a teacher quote him repeatedly my freshman year, I didn't get to know him until the spring of my junior year. I got the chance to study and analyze his writing style and loved his crisp, passionate language where every word seemed to matter.

His wisdom coupled with a preacher's delivery had an impact on the 1960's and The Fire Next Time not only inspired a poem of mine, it's a constant reminder of how unchecked hate will lead to problems. One of the greatest American writers and perhaps the greatest Black writer.

No writer influences me more than this Harlem prophet. His passion for being a witness who wrote what he saw, write with strong urgency and was able to hold a big mirror to society inspires my writing (and inspired my journey to the Jena 6 rally). He challenged his readers to look at themselves and the world around them.

If you look at the quote underneath my blog name, it's inspired by this book. "If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite."

My introduction to the genius of William Blake, one of my favorite poets of the 18th century. I had a great teacher tell me about how Blake was involved with the Romantic movement of Poetry and his philosophy of two ideals to create a third place nobody had considered going.

This book is one of those. A satirical, diabolical yet intriguing work that questions religion like many of the Enlightment thinkers before him in the 17th century. Don't worry, I didn't give up my faith but it was a fascinating read that showed Blake's genius and took you to another train of thought.

It blew my mind because I thought this book was sacrilege. Instead, I was fascinated by the Proverbs of Hell and the Memorable Fancys as well as Blake's genius at work. No wonder Aldous Huxley (and eventually Jim Morrison + Co.) were inspired as well.

Ralph Emerson said that poetry is man speaking to other men with insight. Simple yet potent. His essay "The Poet" defined my philosophy on poetry just being something from the soul but also unique.

Next up: Abstract Ideals.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Sooooooul Power FTW! (Loney Doin Work)

(The scene at home plate after James Loney's walkoff blast today)

Of all the Dodgers' top players - the last one I'd expect to hit a home run at Dodger Stadium is James Loney. He only hit one of his 13 there last season. He's far from a power hitter but he simply hits for average, drives in runs like crazy and plays Gold Glove caliber defense at first.

So imagine the shock and awe I had when Soul Brother #7 sent an Oliver Perez pitch in the 13th inning to the right field seats to beat the Mets. My favorite Dodger who's been the most consistent hitter for the team all season finally got a chance to earn some praise from the Dodger faithful.

On the field, he has great discipline at the plate, great timing and knows how to get on base. Joe Torre has often said he reminds him of his great Yankee centerfielder Bernie Williams.

Over the last two postseasons, no Dodgers hitter was more consistent and potent than Loney. Ask the Cubs against his grand slam in 2008 NLDS or the Phillies about his two homers in last year's NLCS.

You wanna talk about consistent? Dude's hit for 13 Homers and 90 RBI's in 2008 and 2009. He's on pace to possibly do that again with the chance to get 100 RBI's. That's throwback numbers to the days when non-power hitters found ways to win by get on base and driving in runs.

But it doesn't say why he's my favorite Dodger. It's because he's underrated despite the fact he's been our best first baseman since Eric Karros.

He's in the National League's top 5 in RBI's, doubles and hits and is hitting over .300 but because we're in an era of great power hitting first baseman (Pujols, Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, Justin Morneau, Miggy Cabrera, Kevin Youkilis, Adrian Gonzalez), he gets overshadowed. He's overshadowed on a team with stars like Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Manny Ramirez and Rafael Furcal.

But that's his nature. Quiet, professional, humble, goes about his business. Whenever I interviewed him in the clubhouse, he was chill and always answered questions in a laid-back manner. I respected him because he wasn't flashy and played the game the right way. A tribute to his upbringing in Houston.

That's why he's my favorite Dodger. He handles his business, jokes behind the scenes and embodies what it means to be a major leaguer. And that's why I'm so happy for him today! First career game winning shot and a bear hug from partner in crime Matt Kemp.

What Inspires You? This is Me (Intro)

I saw my buddy Jesus' photo album on Facebook on what inspired him. A collage of people, cities and paintings that let you see who he is. I wanted to do the same thing on here.

When I started making my list, I realized I could make a few posts out of this. So next week, I'm gonna play it out slowly. It's gonna cover a wide range of influences from sports, literature, music, life, abstract ideals and whatever I think about.

Even if you don't like sports, the athletes I'll pick inspire me for reasons beyond the game. For me, life is about drawing from another source to add to our unique ability. We're all created for a purpose and we all benefit from being around other parts of God's creation and man's creativity.

I did this last year when I talked about what I became a writer. Here's Part 1 and Part 2. So be on the lookout next week. I hope this lets you take a look at what inspires you.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lessons from Shirley Sherrod

We live in an age where people react swiftly without processing anything. Thanks to the Internet and blogging, we (myself included) can respond to anything as fast as we can get to a computer. Thanks to the 24/7 media crush, any controversial, shocking, offensive, bold statement or action will be reported, analyzed and dissected immediately with disregard for context.

The soundbyte and the reaction become the story instead of including the full scope of what someone says or does. Case in point: John Mayer's stupid but not racist comment about saying the N word or his junk being David Duke. Taken by itself, it looks bad but after reading the ENTIRE Playboy interview (as I discussed here) , it's not as offensive.

As a former journalist, we lived for soundbytes but with all of my stories I strived to provide as much context as possible. In a time where people are bombarded with info, I believed in old school practices - get it right no matter what. Inform the readers and don't run with something without double checking. I try to do the same with E-TV.

Bloggers have a lot of influence today, especially in the political/news realm. They have more freedom and tend to find a lot of stories the mainstream media can't get. They have power but some fail to use it with responsibilty. Case in point, this hackjob named Andrew Brietbart.

He sat on the Shirley Sherrod video for months, doctored it to highlight certain points and then, in the middle of a fight between the Tea Party and the NAACP, decided to release it this week. Everyone flipped out at this Black woman working for the USDA saying she didn't want to give her all to this White farmer 24 years ago.

Unfortunately people flipped out without watching the entire video. I was lucky to turn to CNN to get some more information and happened to see Rick Sanchez not only show the video in full, but interview Sherrod and Roger & Eloise Spooner, the White farmers in question.

"Look kids! Real-life reporting to get the truth! Seeee, it still does exist. I told ya!"

The next day, CNN interviewed Sherrod in person and Rick Sanchez again devoted most of his show to the story. Now the NAACP, USDA, Dept. of Agriculture and the White House had to play damage control and backpedal from their rush to judgment.

It was simple protocol - check all the facts. consider the source. don't rush to judgment. Journalism 101, Fact-Finding 101 and everyone failed. So what we learn from this?

(Just the Facts? Where Have You Gone, Joe Friday)

1) News organizations need to better regulate what they report from blogs. Some blogs have agendas and without proper discernment, they get credibility and the public gets snookered into giving them page views. Blogs win, media loses.

2) Don't jump to conclusions without getting all the facts. Reputations and lives can and have been ruined by rumors. Thankfully we saved Shirley Sherrod but what of ACORN and Van Jones, others ruined by this hack Brietbart.

3) Everything's a soundbyte nowadays. It's clean, neat and pretty. But like most things that look that way, it's part of a bigger picture. You don't read a book and just look at one chapter to gain an understanding.

Like anyone else, my blog is my space to react to what happens. But I write with the Spiderman motto "with great power comes great responsibility". Words have power and I and many others choose to use them wisely because of it. It's because we have integrity and unfortunately, integrity has always taken a back seat to popularity, especially now. We won't attack someone unless we have facts.

Evidence cannot lie as CSI's Gil Grissom said (one of my fave shows and characters), but it can darn sure be manipulated for an agenda.

Shirley Sherrod should be the final straw in a dangerous game of jumping the gun that blogs play in the mainstream. It should remind us to search for the truth. Keep the text in its context. READ and SEE Everything not just the flashy soundbytes but the boring words around it to understand it. We failed her and fortunately we were able to salvage some of it via spin control.

Sadly it'll happen again because these are the times we are in. But let it be a lesson in the danger of giving power to too many voices, rushing the judgment and not keeping the text in its context. What's more important, upholding your integrity or leading by emotion because you didn't ground yourself first.

I leave you with Proverbs 4:7 as a motto on how we should be as a society in the information age. Wisdom is the principal thing therefore get wisdom. But in all your getting, get understanding - to paraphrase. Be informed but understand what you get first.

(Keith Olbermann's Special Comment on this matter is brilliant. A breakdown that goes so well and so deep that I'm tempted to make it my own post. Since this blog is so long anyway, I'll just link it so y'all can click on to watch later.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Christopher Nolan vs. M. Night Shyamalan - Who's The Real Genius? (Hype vs. Substance)

Consider this a followup to my last blog - this is a story about two directors born in 1970 who show the danger of premature hype and the satisfaction of slow building success.

Back in the fall of 1999, a little monster called The Sixth Sense came out. It had a lot of buzz and I remember going to see it with my Dad and sister. It scared the crap out of me and I don't scare easily. It was a thriller that played on your mind and had a twist you didn't see coming.

It also became one of the highest grossing films of all time as well as one of the most critically acclaimed with 6 Oscar Nominations. It now ranks at 89 on AFI's 100 Top Films of All Time and is hailed as one of the greatest thrillers ever. It's also one of my favorite movies.

The new director/writer/producer was hailed as the next Spielberg or Kubrick. M. Night Shyamalan became the new Hollywood wunderkind at 29 and bright things were expected of him.

Two years later, an indie film came out called Memento. I remember hearing a crazy buzz about the inventive plot and it seemed like everybody said it was one of the most original movies around (And I'm still waiting to see it)

Although it made 1/10th of what Sixth Sense, it too was nominated for some Oscars (Best Original Screenplay and Editing) and it's hailed as one of the best films of the 2000's. The director, Christopher Nolan, was called the next David Lynch for the psychological nature of his filmmaking.

Who knew that 10 years later, both Shyamalan and Nolan's careers would converge this summer with expensive projects. Yet they're going in two wildly different directions that makes me wonder who's really the genius.

Shyamalan hasn't made a decent movie since Signs - I remember watching that on a date a few days before I started college. The Village, Lady in the Water, The Happening all gave me high hopes that this would be the film that would be a return to form. Never saw them because the buzz turned into negative reviews that made me think I'd be wasting my time.

And with Last Airbender being the worst reviewed blockbuster in years, it's safe to say that it's time to say Good "Night" to his respectability (Shout to my Cali Tweep @merc80 for that piece). He's still probably a great screenwriter but it's going to take a minor film to slowly rebuild the goodwill he earned a decade ago. The fumes from 6th Sense are just empty vapors now.

Meanwhile Nolan has only reinvigorated the Batman series with Batman Begins, forever changed the superhero film genre with The Dark Knight, and made one of the most original psychological thrillers in some time with Inception. I still want to see The Prestige and I remember hearing Insomnia was another great movie.

Nolan's star has risen meteorically and he's far overdue for a Best Director Oscar nomination. His films are multilayered experiences that satisfy the viewer, make money and challenge the conventions of what films can do.

Basically he's doing what Shyamalan hasn't done since Signs. Challenge the viewer and make good movies. Like I said in my previous blog. He's the most consistent filmmaker in Hollywood right now. Inception will be his 5th consecutive movie to gross $100M and will be in line for award gold come next winter or else Hollywood is a joke.

Predictions are funny - nobody could have seen this coming and it's a sign that hype is a killer. Shyamalan was hailed as a genius before he turned 30 or proved his merit besides one film. But it's Nolan who should be hailed as a true genius before he turns 40 with his best days ahead of him because of his track record.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Inception - Summer Brilliance

When I went to see Inception on Sunday, I had high hopes. The summer movies haven't been really appealing outside of Toy Story 3. NO chance on Earth I'd go see Twilight and I was iffy on the A-Team. Last Airbender is probably going down as the worst reviewed movie to gross $100M so I was hoping Christopher Nolan would help Toy Story save the summer.

Plus I had to convince my crew to go see this. We were supposed to see it Friday but we had to postpone it. I told them there's NO way we are missing this movie so find some cash and make it happen. Happy to say we rolled up 10 deep to see it.

All I have to say is: WOW!!!!! Intense, complex, intelligent, layered, original, mindblowing! I left the theater stunned with a headache and a loss for words. Did a movie like that really make $60 million last weekend in this era of popcorn fare?

I won't spoil anything but I'll start with the fantastic acting. Leonardo DiCaprio is in a class of his own when it comes to greatness. Already made a great movie in Shutter Island earlier this year and now he did another fine job in this with his command.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt has come a long way from Angels in the Outfield and showed why he might be the most underrated actor of my era. In some scenes, he outshined Leo with his restraint. Ellen Page was a perfect newbie sidekick while Marion Cotillard was captivating (much better than she did in Public Enemies). Well-acted film but that's no surprise with 6 Oscar nominees or winners.

(That Murderer's Row doesn't even include Oscar nominees Tom Berenger and Ken Watanabe.)

The concept was original and well-executed. I'll just say that Freud would've been proud of how they looked at dreams and it had me thinking about what it could all mean. A metaphor for filmmaking? Either way you'll look at your dreams differently because it does well capturing the psyche that Freud discussed so well.

I heard somebody say it borrowed some concepts from the Matrix. If anything it added to the idea of an alternate universe.

It's a film that engages you the viewer and forces you to watch closely. It showed why Christopher Nolan (who allegedly thought of this movie at 16) might be the best director in Hollywood right now. He pretty much told peer M. Night Shyamalan, "This is how you make a smart, well-done thriller with twists and layers. Back to the drawing board, son!"

Just like "Dark Knight" - everything about the film tells something about the story. The background, visuals, relationships, atmosphere all relate to the plot and it's absolutely stunning filmmaking.

In short, GO. SEE. THIS. MOVIE. You don't see movies like this come out to critical acclaim and box office success. If it doesn't get any award love, something is wrong with the critics. It's like a good album, don't bootleg it - pay for it. Your mind will thank you! Virgo guarantee.

Friday, July 16, 2010

An Open Letter To Penny Hardaway

Penny Hardaway wants to come back with the Miami Heat. The latest old school player wanting to jump on the bandwagon. Let me just give Penny some advice. NOOOOOOO!!!!!!

You were one of my favorite players when I first got into basketball in 1994-95. You were going to revolutionize the point guard position as the 2nd coming of Magic (little did I know some rookie from Cal would do that named Jason Kidd). You were starting next to Michael Jordan in All-Star Games and holding your own while he pranked you.

It was supposed to be all good when you got traded to Phoenix to join Kidd. You still had moments of brilliance in 2000 but then microfracture surgery in 2001 put you on the downhill slide. And then you bounced around til the end.

You had Magic's vision and unselfishness with way more athleticism. A pass-first guard who could score and had quick hands on defense. You had one of the greatest shoes ever (the blue 96 Pennies) with one of the greatest mascots ever. We'll remember you for your play in the 90's, not the earthbound guy in the 00's.

But for the love of the game, just stay retired and be a proud NBA veteran of the glory days. I'll go out and by your jersey and find an old pair of Pennys on EBay, just stay retired and don't float it out anymore.

You're nearly 39, you could probably average 5 assists with the Heat just being out there. But we know microfracture surgery has never been kind to most players. Enjoy your legacy and let us fans remember you as the last tall point guard to make an impact.

Sincerely, Virgo Kent.

P.S. This is the Penny I want to remember. My favorite dunk ever when I was 10-11 is at #1 - "Hardaway ooooooooover Ewing!!!!"

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Electric Relaxation: Troop "Spread My Wings"

This song came on my Yahoo radio today and I just had to smile during the whole song. It's one of my favorites from the New Jack Swing era and it's got an optimistic message of just looking for love and not giving up.

I guess I can really relate it in a few ways. It doesn't have about to finding love but just finding that right person and knowing they're out there if you keep looking/waiting. Also if you think of it as spreading your wings to find your passion, it's an encouraging jam that won't let you beat yourself up when the world tries its best

Two crazy facts: 1) Didn't realize these dudes were from Pasadena. 2) I think Chuckii Booker is playing that sick guitar solo during the middle of the song. Makes me almost want to do another post on great guitar solos/guitarists in R&B/funk.

It's sad that R&B groups don't really exist anymore. The harmonizing, the dance moves...its all a lost art nowadays. Blame egos and the industry pushing stars instead of a team (which has always happened since The Supremes and Temptations) but I miss it. A big reason that R&B has taken a huge hit creatively.

Enjoy the good vibes *takes off in flight*

Monday, July 12, 2010

Electric Relaxation: My Summer MixTape

Summer's the only season where music is an absolute must. I made a playlist back in 2003 and its funny - its always timely no matter what songs I add to it. And y'all know it ain't summer until Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince say so.

Something about songs to play in the background while you're cruising, at a house party or cooking on the grill makes you feel good. I define a summer jam as a song that just gives you a great vibe for summer break, vacation or just lounging.

Here's my list and not every song has to say summer to give you that feel. Drums please!

DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince - Summertime
Ace of Base - Cruel Summer (love this more than the original)
Smash Mouth - Walking on the Sun
Lil Rob - Summer Nights
Sugar Ray - Fly, Someday, When It's Over (They owned summer for five years)
Don Henley - Boys of Summer (The Ataris did a fantastic cover)
Dr. Dre - Let Me Ride
Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg - Nuthin But a G'Thang (duh!)
Len - Steal My Sunshine
Eve 6 - Inside Out
Third Eye Blind - Semi-Charmed Life/Never Let You Go
Howie Day - Collide
Jay-Z - Dear Summer
Dove Shack - Summertime in the LBC
Roscoe - I Love Cali (Kurupt's younger bro's only hit but a classic)
Rancid - Time Bomb
Beach Boys (ummmmmm pick a song, any song, I'll pick "In My Room", "California Girls")
LFO - Summer Girls
Sly + The Family Stone - Hot Fun in the Summertime
Slighty Stoopid - Sweet Honey
Kool + The Gang - Summer Madness (sampled by Will and Jazz, classic goodness)
Incubus - Summer Romance
Tribe Called Quest - Find My Way
Vitamin C - Smile

Sublime - What I Got/Doin' Time
Arrested Development - Mr. Wendal
Boyz II Men - Vibin'
Lighter Shade of Brown - Hey DJ
Naughty By Nature - Jamboree
Steel Pulse - Can't Stand It (might remember this from Do The Right Thing)
311 - Amber/Champagne
Home Grown - Surfer Girl
+44 - Lycanthrope
Fishbone - Party at Ground Zero/Everyday Sunshine

What's your favorite? And what's gonna add itself to my list? I give Katy Perry for trying her best to make a summer jam but it's sadly a lost art to craft a song to fit the best season. Certain songs just remind you of summer but we don't have too many songs just made for it.

As a bonus here's a link to a dope mixtape for the summer from Jazzy Jeff and Mick Boogie, arguably my favorite mixtape DJ in the game.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

L.B.J. (What Does It Mean?) - Winners/Losers/Reaction

Bill Simmons of ESPN called it the LeBronApocalypse. The reverberations of July 8, 2010 are gonna be felt for years to come just like July 1, 1996. So in the spirit of the Sports Guy, here's the winner and losers.


LeBron James - Cut to the chase, beneath the BS of his process, he won because he chose the best chance of winning over money and staying home. He sacrificed his on-court ego for the Superfriends. New jersey, new team, same dream.

Dwyane Wade - He becomes the Alpha Dog Superstar. LBJ and Chris Bosh came to his team, he's still The Man and better yet, his reputation grows even bigger. He's no villain, in fact, he's arguably alone with Kobe, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant as a superstar.

Pat Riley - Nearly 3 decades after Showtime, he's still making moves. Biggest power broker in the NBA (World Wide Wes who?). Erik Spolestra, Stan Van Gundy's on Line 1 telling you watch your back.

Miami - Welcome back to respectability. 4 years after Shaq and D-Wade brought you a ring, you're poised for the best run you've had since Tim Hardaway and Alonzo ran the city for years.

The NBA - Promotions galore? Sellouts around the country? Hype, Hype, Hype!! Oh YES, David Stern is happy as he's been since Jordan's final season. Ratings through the roof, casual fans tuning in, not to mention a highly competitive season.

Kobe Bryant and the Lakers - While the Evil Three celebrate, the Black Mamba chills with his army. If Pau Gasol dominated Amare Stoudemire and Dwight Howard, how will he fare against Chris Bosh, a far weaker version of the two. Oh and Miami needs to figure out how to fill up that bench besides Mario Chalmers and Mike Miller.

Did I mention the Lakers just got a boat load of new fans rooting to take out the 3-headed Hydra? For Kobe haters, they hate LeBron even more and its picking the lesser of 2 evils. More motivation for the 3-peat. If Derek Fisher doesn't get his deal from the Lakers then this goes for naught. Memo to Mitch Kupchak. Make. It. Happen.

Kevin Durant - quiet as kept on Twitter, he re-upped with Oklahoma City ensuring they'll run the West along with Portland and Houston. Give them a quality big man and they'll get a ring faster than Miami.

He also endeared himself to more fans. Showing up to summer league games for his team? Putting in work in the gym after signing? He gets it.


LeBron James - Where to start. He becomes a villain (Darth Vader, the 2nd half of Richard III) and is the NBA's answer to A-Rod, its greatest talent with zero team hardware. His reputation will never be the same as a King, but rather a talented, unselfish PG that couldn't do it on his own.

That's not a bad thing considering it didn't tarnish the legacies of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Clyde Drexler, Moses Malone (peep his 1982-83 Philadelphia squad of 4 All-Stars and the 6th Man of the Year), Shaquille O'Neal and Kevin Garnett. Not every star stays with one squad. But outside of Shaq/Moses/Kareem, all of them weren't in their prime. They all had chances to be the man and when they couldn't, they went elsewhere to win.

It's true for LeBron, but the backlash of his announcement has turned him into Darth James. The love is gone, enter the hate and resentment. He'll be hated worse than Kobe for his oversized ego in planning this whole charade. It was a celebration of himself and his empire, which leads me to...

ESPN: The Worldwide Leader of Sports has blurred the line with sports and entertainment before. They've been accused of favoritism, bias and being the story instead of reporting it. Thursday, it all came to a head.

Journalistic integrity was lost as they not only hosted this charade, but allowed for LeBron advertising to dominate the airwaves. (via Vitamin Water or McDonald's). My dude Stu Scott was painfully guilty of hyperbole and if not for Michael Wilbon's and Jon Barry's perspective, it would be the worst public foreplay in a while.

ESPN's been pumping this dude up since 2002 when they showed him and Carmelo facing off in high school. They've been feeding into the hype machine for 8 years so it's no surprise they publicly sold their soul for a 1-hour special that felt all shades of dirty compromise. They made this bed, laid in it and in the end, the network looked like a prostitute instead of a news station.

Amar'e Stoudemire -After LeBron's announcement, it was announced David Lee left the New York Knicks in a sign and trade with Golden State. Soon after, Chris Duhon left to sign with Orlando.

So what did Amar'e gain this week? A $100M contract to play for a team with no PF to ease the burden and no PG to run the team and give him the ball. Oh, but he's back with the coach he didn't win anything with. Have fun in mediocrity - anybody seen Shawn Marion, Boris Diaw or Quentin Richardson lately?

(By the way, this makes Steve Nash all the more valuable)

We the fans - I asked on Twitter if we're partly to blame for LeBron's ego. But it can apply to any famous athlete who we've built up and watch become a villain. Like Jay-Z said, "First they love you, then they hate you, then they leave you alone"

We worship the cult of personality created by the media and our interest. We build people up to be bigger than are. We tell kids that they are the most important people around, throw our hopes into them and make them out to be saviors. But then we get mad when they don't follow our plan or throw it away (Painfully obvious this past week with Lindsay Lohan)

Welcome to Frankenstein. Dr. Frankenstein makes a monster that he hopes to control but ends up watching it lose control b/c it began to think for its own and become independent. We can't control people yet we feed into someone having a bigger sense of identity.

So we lost too. Sportswriter Will Leitch (one of the best today) said it best - we idolize people who are nothing like us and project ourselves onto them. Only problem is they have a brain too and will take our praise and run with it.

Cleveland - 1964 was the last time they won a professional sports title. They won't win another for another decade at least.

Cavs owner Dan Gilbert - We went nuts over his ether to LeBron. Then realized it was self-ether because he pampered and coddled his "King" by hiring a favorable coach and trading for parts that didn't fit. You mad? Look in the mirror and realize this is your fault. Loyalty is about winning and you made LeBron's decision easier acting like a jilted lover.

Knicks/Nets - Waited two years for what? To be way out of the running despite Jay-Z, incredible cap space, overload of $$$ from the Nets owner and the Knicks doing everything to set up for this day.

Epic failure. And no sign of getting out of irrelevancy for a while. Sorry Knicks/Nets fans.

The NBA landscape has changed big time. It's the Rise of the Six Lord Darth James and the Evil Empire orchestrated by Gordon Gekko Himself, Pat Riley. Will it be fun to watch? You bet. But bet your money on the Lakers not being ready to give up the throne and Boston ready for one more run as the Beasts of the East

LeBronApocalypse will be felt for years to come like July 1, 1996 (the day Shaq came to the Lakers and ushered in a shift from the East to the West). But it's bigger than basketball as the world watched his decision, it reminded us that winning no longer is a requirement to make you a brand. Just hype and buzz.

We are all witnesses AND participants in this disgusting ego trip. It exposed what we've done for years but too bad the outrage won't change anything.