Category Archives: Pop Culture Review

And how are you so different… (A blog inspired by Lamar Odom)


The impetus of this Blog all started off from a question proposed by my current life partner.  I informed her that I started reading a Lamar Odom interview and I saw a lot of myself in who he was.

She then proposed a question to me that resonated: How are you so different?

It sparked some thought within my mind. I live by the philosophy that there is an existence beyond our five senses: ideals, concepts, and things seemingly imperceivable and not so much verifiable by conventional scientific means. I believe the majority of individuals have an intuition of the same inclination but struggle to reconcile this belief with their everyday existence. Most, I presume, live there life by certainty. Bills are cut and dry and are certainly due. Food is tangible and you certainly need to eat. Sexual desire is certainly real and we seek outlets for the expression. But there are so many nebulous concepts and motivations out there that inspire people, and I believe these intangible desires begin many of the psychological rifts within a person. For instance, love: how can you define love? Can it simply be reduced to chemical reactions and a genetic desire to promulgate a phenotype or is there something more to it, something other worldly about it. The soul: do we all have one, or maybe it’s a subsection of the mind or a construct of such?

And so the question remains…

What makes me any different than Mr. Lamar Odom? Initially I was a bit affronted by the question, because she subsequently stated I often think you have issues. As I began to reflect more upon the question I realized he and I were not so different. No matter how much I attempted to rationalize the truth, there is a part of Lamar that links him to me and that part is the yearning for truth.  The yearning for an understanding of who we are and what we are, and the reconciliation of both ideals.

Lamar stated in an interview: “Wherever my heart is and I can have peace of mind (is home). Life can seem nomadic because I don’t know if I’m embracing it or running from it. I can go anywhere, but I don’t know where I want to be.”

This is a very telling statement. I see a lot within this statement. I see a man attempting to reconcile the thoughts in his head with the life that’s been presented to him. I see a man struggling to quiet the voice that’s telling him that there is more truth to life than the common eye can discern. A man who has suffered much but has no true solace for his suffering only the thoughts within his head.  Those thoughts provide his only console and so he self-medicates. Perhaps as an attempt to drown out the reality of it all, because maybe the reality that he can doesn’t feel so real after all.  And the reality he can sense isn’t evident enough.

Of course I could be projecting all this on to Lamar. I’ve only seen the man once in passing at an AAU tournament I played in when I was younger an Loyola Marymount University..

Lamar: “I’m searching,” he says. “I’m searching, but I don’t know for what. I can’t see what I’m looking for. I just, like, reach out and hope I grab something. But I don’t know what it will be because I don’t know what I’m searching for.”

I see a man who derives no fulfillment from fame and money. He enjoys its fruits but it does nothing for his soul. A man beginning to understand the fact that who is isn’t necessarily all that is to him and his existence.  The money fame is never enough and was never enough, it only created a buffer between him and others.  It only further entrapped him into a prison of his own thoughts and his own means of self-actualization.  Which can make a man feel alone, it’s hard to make your self vulnerable when you live most of your waking life being the image you portray yourself as.

Lamar: “I think about a lot. I think all the time–about everything… There’s so much going on. So many thoughts. I think about this life. About me. Who I could be. Who I was. Who I am. Who am I?”

These seem to be self reflective questions that any person would ask themselves. The “issues “arise when the answers you receive become irreconcilable with your truth.  Some people find these answers through religion, others through societies standards and still others seek to derive their own answers. Although our circumstances are vastly different and the manner in which I choose to go about seeking those answers differ. Maybe there are less differences between us as I would have liked to presume– Lamar and I.

So then the question truly becomes…

How are YOU so different?


“I’m a dying breed…There are no more Lamar Odoms. I’m the last one”

Here is a link to the Chris Palmer, Bleacher Report interview from which the quotes were pulled: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2580319-finding-lamar-odom-tracking-down-the-elusive-and-recently-embattled-former-star

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Past vs. Present Mayweather vs. Ali…Symbols of an Era (A Blog by Jack)

This Blog is analysis of two Iconic figures in the Sports World of Boxing.

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Up first, we have a fighter who is often regarded as the Greatest of all-time, Muhammad Ali.  Too often we just define greatness by simply the feats that are done in the athletes specific arena of expertise.  Yet, Ali transcends this, he does not have the greatest record, but he knew that he was a human.  He knew as a being part of humanity that he had a role within and obligation towards humanity.  He knew that he was bigger than boxing and that he was working towards something Bigger than himself.

As an Icon, we must factor the totality of a man–the totality of a human being,  comprising of the mind, body, soul, and spirit.  Not just the accolades one could do with their specific gift or physical prowess.  But how one uses the attention one receives for a bigger purpose of Bigger cause.  And Ali was endowed with all of these characteristics.  He was a well spoken, confident, articulate, handsome, self-serving yet a self-sacrificing man. As a man of principle he sacrificed the lion’s portion of his career to protest the Murder of people’s in Vietnam.  As a warrior he navigated through several fights in which the odds were pressed against him and he managed to strategically maneuver and persevere  through these feats of human suffering.  As a prophet he foretold the world of his sure coming greatness and fulfilled these prophecies.  He Spoke of his forthcoming greatness and ushered himself into this greatness.  As an articulate poet, he gave the public catch phrases and rhymes that reverberated in the collective conscious of the public.  These literary gyms help push forth the many prophesies through mere repetition and quantitative thought of the public.

Ali was more than a man.  He is a symbol beyond himself.  He is a symbol of championship and a barometer of the people of the time.  The mindset of the era, and the hope that ensued.  He represented n embodied what it meant to be American.

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Which brings us to one Floyd “Money” Mayweather.  A modern icon, he too stands for more than just a fighter.  As his name entails, he too is a symbol of our era and unfortunately, is a barometer of our era as well.  Floyd is the, self-proclaimed, greatest boxer that has ever  lived. And he has a myriad of fans who would support the notion.  But who is Floyd in comparison to the Great Ali.  As a man, what exactly does he symbolize?  And if we are using his Symbol to eclipse that of Ali, what exactly does this implicate or entail?

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Analyze Floyd, he is a man small of stature.  He is boxer who is undefeated and is known for his preternatural ability to leave a fight unblemished– meaning he has never had to overcome within a fight.  He is a man who puts much of his value in the money that he has obtained.  He derives vast self worth from the money he possess.  Not to imply that he doesn’t use his money to help others but when confronted about possibly donating money to Africa this was his response.

“[People] say ‘well, he got all this money, why is he not giving to Africa?’” starts Mayweather. “Well, what has Africa given to us?

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And if you would take look at this statement, you would see it is but a cross-section of the larger picture.  This statement alone can summarize the persona of Floyd “Money” Mayweather.  Yet he too has very redeemable qualities.  He too, is prophetic: prophesying his forth coming glory and putting in the requisite work to ensure these prophesies come true.  He is a very hard worker.  And of course, he has yet to lose.

But as a symbol what are we believing in, if we place him on a pedal stool above the Great Ali. What exactly are we uplifting?  The symbol of our era: a small man, self-absorbed, self-righetous, self-proclamating, an anti-prophet, money obsessed, inarticulate and self-centered individual.  He does not stand for anything outside of himself, and he reduces his movement to something very small and very confined.  He is currently not in the state of mind to allow his movement to be bigger than himself.  So it reduces both his role and his iconic status, although, this may be an accurate barometer of the current era.  And it may be why so many people identify with the man, because he is everything that they want to be.  He is everything that they hold in high esteem.  He represents everything that they value and in their eyes he is the perfect representation of the era.  Now what that implicates is far more tragic and is meant for another blog.

So we have one closed off individual who keeps most at a distance and is quite introverted vs. the ultimate “man of the people”.  And Ironic enough, as America has declined, so has its symbol.  And now we have a new symbol to go hand in hand with a new America.

So, to whom do you see as the Greatest?

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Donkey of the day (Michelle Rodriguez) (a response by Jack)

Michelle Rodriguez made a comment recently that was spurned by many.  She was asked, in jest, would she be the next Green Lantern.  The Green Lantern is a popular comic book hero, who is having a movie centered around him and his story line.  Her response to the question: “Ha ha ha That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard…Ya..I think it’s stupid like..because of this whole minorities in Hollywood thing..But it’s so stupid…Stop stealing all the White people’s superheroes..make up your own..you know..”

Michelle, from my perspective, is quite an accomplished actress.  She has made away for herself and has helped to break down cultural barriers with her choice of roles and characters that she chooses to plays.  She is generally known for her role as “female bad-ass”.  The tough chick who needs no one accept herself to save her own skin.  A delightful archetype indeed.  But the statement she made, in a sense set back all the ground she has covered with her role, it strips these roles of their mystique and power.  Even though the statement does have a negative side to it, it does make a strong point–and a very valid point at that.

Let us begin with the misunderstanding within the statement–the negative aspect.  Her primary misstep was stating “Sop stealing all the White people’s superheroes.”  Ironically enough, many of these superheroes that she speaks of were indeed directly created from or based off of heroes from antiquity.  Many of which were derived from Greek heroes, who were ultimately replica’s of character’s from African folklore and the like.  The heroes she so despises to be hijacked were stolen ideas in the first place. This is only one aspect of the statement that turns people off from the valid truths that the statement contains.

The next aspect that turns people off is her dismissive attitude towards the “whole minorities in Hollywood thing.” It is as though she dismisses the idea that there is a dominant white-male-patriarchal paradigm that has and does dominate the Hollywood scene if not the entire American scene.  She compounds this by essentially defending the paradigm, by saying if you want to be a part of the paradigm you cannot, go make your own paradigm—your own heroes. An industry that is dominated by a particular class of people does not want anyone infringing on there niche.  And this provides the crux of the Blog.

The superhero plays a large part in the psyche of the collective consciousness of the American individual, as well as any individual that is part of popular culture collective consciousness.  Much like Jesus or Santa Claus has done, superheroes such as Superman and Batman have plugged themselves into our psyche—whether we consciously acknowledge so or not.  We are constantly bombarded with the archetype of a White Male being our savior on so many levels.  Whether it be as a child—the bearer of all things good; whether it be as an adult—the protector or guardian of our souls; or whether it be on an imaginary level—the guardian of our well being and planet.  However you splice it, we are constantly reinforced and reaffirmed that this White Male archetype is our “God” in a sense.  And if you have to be convinced of something chances are it is the furthest from the truth.  See my “https://ingloriousresurrection.com/2014/11/26/rebuilding-the-black-woman-guardians-of-our-souls/” for further clarification.

Yes, a society in which all the laws were established by a particular group of people.  All industry was established by a particular group of people.  And the entire framework of the system that is our society was created by a particular group of people.  It would make sense for this group of people to constantly flaunt their power or rather convince the social consciousness that their perceived power is a reality. It is a voracious attempt to cling unto what little power they do have—which is the power to persuade perception.

Insert Michelle Rodriguez, unbeknownst to her by defending this white-male power structure she has actually subconsciously undermined it.  And this is the beauty in her statement.  Despite where these superhero narratives originally came from, she understands that the white-male lays claim to it now.  And instead of being so possessed with taking back the old—go forth and create more.  Although, there is nothing new under sun, we are in a new era.  Create a new hero, for a new era, to combat the heroes that are already in place.  Symbolically what she is saying is along the lines of Malcolm X.  Why put energy into being a part of someone’s else reality when you can go forth and create your own reality and create your own truths—essentially: save yourself.  Rather, reclaim your truth and re-express it.

And despite how inarticulate you expressed her sentiment, and the true intention of her statement, this is the truth that she was attempting to convey.  Although, that truth is smeared in mud and not presented in the best of lights.  There is a truth within her statement.  Free yourself from the bondage of another’s narrative, go forward and craft your own narrative.  Stop letting someone else dictate your history and your future.  Claim your history and write your future, and this can be done through the narrative of the story—which is best expressed in the modern era through superheroes and fictional characters.  Like it or not, people identify with fictional characters.  People idolize, latch on to, and derive personal meaning from the lives and actions of fictional characters witnessed through the medium of entertainment—whether it is reality or not it affects reality.

And so before we become so quick to demonize her statement.  Let us marinate on the truth the lives embedded with the muck of her statement.  Perhaps…. She on to something!

February 14th Dead Flower’s Day (Valentine’s day rant/blog)

There is a thin line between provocative blog topic and a rant… This post tip toes that line with the greatest of precision.

My most recent form of employment is as a Customer Care rep at reputable Valentine’s day capitalizing corporation… You could probably guess the company but that is quite irrelevant…

The point is I process request for people ordering Valentine’s day flowers for loved ones. And now that the holiday is over I take complaints from unsatisfied customers.

Aside from the various complaints, I found one common thing among the customers, about 90% of the customers preferred their money back as opposed to a replacement order of flowers. I’m dealing with customers who’s flowers didn’t arrive for whatever reason, or worse who’s flowers arrived dead (quite a horrible omen for a relationship).

Now these customers never opt to take a replacement order when I present the scenario of refund or replacement.

At first I found this reasonable but I begin to delve deaper while listening to their rationale. The most common one.. “Valentines’ day is over, it’s pointless now! Just give me my money back!”

In my head I’m thinking… Were you really placing all your eggs in one basket. Did this arbitrary day mark the cut off point as to when you can show a loved one appreciation or make them feel special? Do you now have to wait an entire calendar year now? Lol….

The irony of it all is quite disturbing. It seems like the day itself is being celebrated as opposed to the actual person. It’s about adhering to the proprieties of this day’s command. If you do not beckon to the call of the day, somehow you will be punished by the Day and her minions. How does one justify not giving your loved one their intended token of appreciation simply because minutes… hours.. days have passed…

“What’s the point?” (Oddly enough the caller always attempts to get me agree, as though my corroboration is enough to justify their neglect.)

Leads me to believe that you didn’t really appreciate the person in the first place… It was just the spirit of the festivities that provoked your action…And if that is your only inspiration for your actions… Perhaps your relationship is as dead as those flowers you so adamantly insisted ruined your valentine.

Just a thought….

Hip Hop…The Gift and Curse (an analysis: does art imitate life or vice versa)

Does art imitate life or does life imitate art?

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We will examine the medium of rap or hip-hop music and its function in American culture. We will attempt to examine this expression of art from an honest– objective perspective.

There exist many influential mediums that utilize audio and visual stimulation– music and television—hip-hop is just a drop in a bucket of a larger lexicon. With each of these mediums the question of what influences what becomes blurred and almost indistinguishable. I see it as such: the 80/20 rule. The art impacts the lives that perceive it, and the creators of the art are impacted by aspects of life that they wish to convey. Art tends to imitate a portion of life that is provocative or noteworthy and it highlights and often embellishes this phenomenon.

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Life, on the other hand, is very much influenced by what it perceives. So life, or a portion of life, will reside in the comfort of the status quo– while the rebellious nature, that desires change, will often imitate art. And seek this art out as a means of expressing this innate desire for change. It then becomes a self-referential pattern if you will. Art– bringing to the forefront of society something hidden and unbeknownst to the majority. In turn the highly suggestible of society will imitate this art. From this process “pop” icons and influential figures are birthed creating their own phenomenon. Seemingly out of no where, stars are born and the strength of their gravitational pull draws people in. And for a time these figures tend to exercise an influence of power until their star power fizzles out and they are replaced by the next cultural icon.

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There is a thin line between art and propaganda…

Let us examine the art of hip-hop– art in form but a device in function. It serves many purposes in the modern era. A means of marketing… A means of venting… A medium to exchange knowledge… A means of individual expression…

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/fdb/77017821/files/2015/01/img_3946.pngIn its inception hip-hop was a pure Art form. It served as a voice of a disenfranchised portion of society—as a means to both express and provide a healthy fun outlet for individuals. Hip-hop was a four-point art form that included break dancing, DJing, graffiti display, and MCing (actual oral poetry on top of a beat– rapping). In its current state, hip-hop has become mutated into a disfigured remnant of itself. The art form has been raped, ravaged, exploited, commercialized, and pimped out to the highest bidder–and not by accident but through systematic design.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/fdb/77017821/files/2015/01/img_3949.jpgThe phenomenon of hip-hop has evolved. It is a powerful force that has the ears and energy of the youth. There was a time when the art form spoke out about social injustices among the disenfranchised—it gave knowledge to the youth about who they were and could be in a positive light.

It provided quality dance music that allowed the body to freely expressive itself and tune in with energies of the natural environment. Hip-hop enlightened the youth by dropping conscious jewels. It had its flaws but it was an overall positive powerful force in American society.

But special interest became intertwined with the art. Money became their means of infiltration and manipulation. Fame became a poison, and artist placed fame above the art. Statistics and money became the major motivation of producing the art while talent and artistry began to gradually lose significance. Artist began to utilize gimmicks in aims of selling records and lost the purpose of the art form. Money became the only purpose of making the music. The art began to glorify opulence– unrealistic life styles, misogyny, violence, and drug culture. The art began to sell hope.

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Thus we have liquor companies investing heavenly into hip-hop culture—soliciting their products through song lyrics and music videos. You have the industrial prison complex having mutual interest with record labels encouraging violence and illicit drug use. You have the drug underworld “powers to be” having a vested interest in the art helping market new drugs and so forth to susceptible ears.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/fdb/77017821/files/2015/01/img_3956.jpg We have the fashion-industry sponsoring artist to market their name-brands that the susceptible hold with such prestige and a manifestation of self-esteem.

And so on and so on and so on…

So hip-hop current state is in a tug-of-war.

With the advent of the Internet, music is not so much a monopoly. Generally those controlling the means of distribution and marketing the music hold all of the power. Now there are different channels for a pure artist to reach their target market. Hip-hop has a means of organically resurrecting itself. And the recent success of hip-hop artist J. Cole is encouragement enough to show that hip-hop is beginning to rebirth itself.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/fdb/77017821/files/2015/01/img_3957.png(With little to no marketing, he outsold major pop-hop artist who had major labels backing them.)

People are addicted to the relate-ability and appeal of the music to their lower-selfs. Not elevating but staying within the bestial realm of the carnal senses—and this serves a purpose. So the music is marketed towards this sect. The 808s and rhythmic drums awaken and lead the subconscious, awakening the body and having it involuntarily move in conjunction with these rhythms. The mind absorbs the lyrics and registers them. The lyrics repeat over and over and begin to evoke thought. And before you know it the music becomes a part of you. You’ve imitated what you are to become. As the people begin to desire more from their music, the art form will become what it once was. The people will awaken from their comatose state, for hip-hop is the spirit of the people. As the spirit awakens the non-sense we gradually die.

Such is the nature of art it both enlightens and it condemns…

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30 for 30 Rand University (A response)

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A reflection upon a revealing documentary… Although, I felt the documentary was insightful, It appears to be a story within a story. A story unfulfilled because to be quite frank the story is uncomplete– a skeleton without muscle or organs. The documentary is centered around polarizing professional athlete Randy Moss (one of my favorites). Like so many other melaninated athletes the documentary depicts his plight from tremendous odds to athletic immortality. The documentary explores his troubles with the law as a youth. His psychological response to racism (a people who want you only for your athletic prowess and nothing more). Also, his perpetual fight with the myopia that the small town life fostered. And his overcoming perseverance that led to his seemingly apparent success…This documentary addresses it all.

A private figure… Randy actually opened up and shed a light upon a portion of who he is. This allowed insight into the psyche of so many young melaninated males in similar dichotomies.

I describe this as a story half told because of an aspect of the documentary that struct a nerve with me. The documentary is entitled Rand University. This is attributed to the fact that there are so many exceptional athletes produced in that region but never make it “out”. In fact most of em “end up drinking 40 ounces outside of 7-11” This is what the locals deem Rand University. All the prodigious athletes graduate high ftschool and attend an existence of nothingness and forsaken hope.

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This is an exponential tragedy because Rand University have campuses in every state in every city in every town across the United States of America. So many young men are living under a delusion.. A very strong delusion… The implanted truth that the only road to success in America is through being praised by America. The avenues to being praised or beloved or embraced by America is through physical prowess(athletics) or showmanship (musician or entertainer). This is a grave tragedy. An unspoken axiom that goes unchecked and unchallenged. And I myself am not exempt from this delusion.. Growing up, even I thought that that was the only means of “success”. I do not know where this mentality came from exactly. I do not know where it took root. It wasn’t as though I was not exposed to professionals of melanin. It just always seemed as though nothing else was attainable. It seemed “possible” and I knew I had the “ability” but it never felt real or achievable…

What general consensus has swept young melaninated people’s to put all their hope in their ability to be embraced by the masses. Without that “love” they feel worthless. Without that hope they are cursed to live a destitute life of nothingness.. As I said I am of no exception.. I was always told to go to college… But I never felt or saw an end game. This has stunted my “progress” in life. I saw college as an ends… Not a means to an end and this has left me some what stuck… Trying to figure it all out. I’m at least lucky enough to have the wherewithal to try to figure it out.. As this documentary highlights, there are so many of my brothers who simply lose hope after the initial dream is shattered.. After one run in with the law… After one ill placed tragedy… They are left with nothing…. No direction… No ambition.. And without hope!

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There is one part in the documentary that embodies this spirit. It’s when one of Randy Moss’ childhood friends who didn’t “make it out” is recounting his mishap.. Retelling how he lost his opportunity.. He simply broke down and cried. As though his world no longer had meaning because of a dream unfulfilled. Yet, in reality he is a young man… Under the age of 40… He has all the world to gain… No matter the circumstance it all can turn around… It starts with one idea and a whole lot of drive and determination.

But, so many of our brethren don’t have that idea… That thought never enters their mind. The seed just lands on harsh soil and never takes root.

Why?

How do you break this psychosis if it alone defines your reality? And you know nothing beyond your reality…

Is it the responsibility of a society to look after its individuals? Is it the responsibility of the individual to save himself by any means necessary? Is this mentality of individualism productive to the collective? How does an individual with nothing to lose react when they feel it’s them against the world? Who seeks to gain from the decisions that this individual will potentially make. Prison industrial complex? Illicit drug industry? Etc?

So we are left with an untold story. The story of one shining star. One individual who defied the odds. A survival of the fittest narrative played out to perfection. Yet, the nature of humanity isn’t so much a survival of the fittest, but a survival of the collective. The true issue is why so many individuals are innately not part of the collective unless they “earn” their way in. Why are some born on the outside looking in? Why is that generally accepted?

Why must one earn their way into a society that they have no way of escaping?

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