Monday, September 29, 2008

I bet George W. Bush has one of these...

The Abu Graib coffee table...

P**** Power

Raleigh used to be populated by nice southern girls; no more. Lately, this is what you'll come across downtown...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fresh line from Andre Benjamin "3000" of Outkast

Anyone who follows hip-hop and/or fashion knows that Benjamin Andre, better known as Andre 3000 of Outkast is one stylish guy. He recently decided to take advantage of that, and premiered the first 70 pieces of his new clothing line aptly dubbed "Benjamin Bixby," naming it after one of his self-proclaimed alter-egos. Andre notes that he drew inspiration for his line from the early days of football, rugby, and dapper, noteworthy gentlemen of the 1930's, such as Carey Grant. Check out some of the pieces below...


Dope Street Artist: Roadsworth

Recently I came across this artist named Roadsworth whose work is done either in chalk or paint and entirely on public streets and sidewalks in Montreal. He was charged with 53 counts of mischief after being caught in the act, but the charges levied ended up being much more lenient after much public outcry, as they should have been. This stuff is dope!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Pandering at its Finest

The past ten days or so have certainly been interesting on the political front. Illinois Senator, and Democratic Presidential candidate for President, gave the closing speech at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado, in front of almost 90,000 people. His presence, message, and intensity were electrifying. The only thing it could be compared to is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speech on the mall in Washington, D.C. forty years to the day before. Bit by by, Senator Obama has gained my respect and subsequent support over the past few months. He is captivating as a speaker, and his ideas are fresh, especially compared to what we've had to suffer through over the past eight years, and will have to continue to suffer through if we elect Senator John McCain.

I hung on Senator Obama's every word that night as he spoke, and as I listened to him, I couldn't help but wonder one thing. What would Dr. King have to say about all this if he were alive today? I wonder if he would have been able to fathom an African American male standing in front of a crowd of supporters so large, accepting his party's nomination for President of the United States of America. He would have been proud, that much is certain. There will be a lot of disappointed people if Senator Obama is not elected November 4th. I think that there is a huge group of people that will be even more disappointed than those that will go into the booth and check his name on the ballot. The group of which I speak is the rest of the world.

Love him or hate him, the rest of the world pretty much loved us when Bill Clinton was President. Then along came a guy named Bush and turned everyone against us. This brings me to Senator McCain. I used to like the guy. He used to have his own set of ideas and was moderate. He brought both parties together for the greater good. Then, almost inexplicably, the guy basically jumped into George Bush's back pocket and started voting with him 92% of the time. Look where that got us. But the thing that completely turned me against Senator McCain happened Friday after Senator Obama's historic speech.

I turn on the television to see that McCain has chosen Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to be his running mate. Wait, who? Exactly. No one knew who this woman was. I can almost guarantee you that the majority of the ultra-conservatives cheering for her last week at the Republican National Convention didn't know who she was just days before. And there they were on national television, cheering for her and chanting her name like she's a deity. What gives? Strategy, that's what (Or as President Bush would say "strategery.").

Of course, all politics is strategy, but excuse my French COME THE FUCK ON YOU STUPID FUCKING AMERICANS! Have you ever heard of pandering? If not, grab a fucking Webster's dictionary and read. From the very beginning of this race the only leg to stand on the conservatives have had has involved discrediting Obama's ability to lead the country because of his thin history in terms of experience. And McCain nominates a woman who has been in office 18 months and governs a state whose polar bear population is larger than its human one? So, let me get this straight Senator. We're supposed to elect you, a guy who has had recurring cancer four times, and allow our nation to be one heart attack away from being led by a woman whose biggest accomplishment is some trophy big game animal hanging on the wall at her house, not to mention she is a member of a group that wants her state to secede from the United States. Really? What was that you said about experience and how that discredits your opponent?

Oh wait, I get it. Sarah Palin has a vagina; also has a pair of breasts as best as I can tell, probably just like the ones Senator Hillary Clinton has. It's brilliant; ingenious Senator. All the polls show you getting your butt handed to you, even before the Democratic National Convention. Then Senator Clinton, former President Clinton, and Senator Obama speak and the nation is captivated, so you pick a woman to run on your ticket as a last resort to have any shot at the White House in two months. Nope, no pandering going on there, no sir, none at all.

Some lightbulb went off in one of your advisor's heads, telling them that if you picked a woman to run with you, you could earn the vote of all the women who supported Senator Clinton and voted for her in the Democratic Primary. Forget the fact that Senator Clinton and Governor Palin have completely opposing views on almost everything. Your ideology is simple: Women will vote for you simply because your running mate is a woman. Way to discredit and effectively dumb down women, Senator. It's as if you thought to yourself, it doesn't matter what a female candidate's views are; her stances don't matter. The only thing that matters is that she's a woman. And because she's a woman, all the women will vote for me...uhh, I mean "us." Are you sure George Bush hasn't invaded your body? I guess you're becoming senile at your age.

Allow me to make this really simple for you ladies who read this blog. If you vote for John McCain in the upcoming election, you're slapping yourself in the face and sending all of womankind right back to the stone age. You might as well erase everything women's rights activists and feminists have fought for over the years. John McCain, or at least his advisors, think you are dumb enough to vote for him just because Sarah Palin is a woman. They think you're dumb enough, no, gullible enough, to step behind the curtain in the voting booth on November 4th and see her name on the ballot, think to yourself "Girl power!" and check the McCain/Palin box. And if you're dumb enough to think that way, well, perhaps you shouldn't be voting at all.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Curtain closing? Not quite.

This space looks strange. Unfamiliar. Almost foreign. I suppose that's what happens when you stray from blogging for a while. I logged on to finally put thoughts into something cohesive and put it out in cyberspace for the world to see, and when I did so, this big, blank, white space stared back at me. I sat here twenty minutes at least before figuring out what I wanted to say. Or maybe I knew what I wanted to say but didn't know how to say it. First, a little business...

For those of you who haven't been keeping up, I parted ways with the cutthroat world of banking at the end of May. Even though it's been a struggle since, I stand by what I said at the time about it being the best thing I ever did. Let me tell you about a day at the bank as a commercial lender.

You wake up at the ass crack of dawn. Shower, shave (sometimes), put on a suit and tie, which feels more and more like a noose every day. Stop at Starbuck's and purchase over-priced coffee because it's what all the other corporate lemmings do. Spend half your paycheck commuting to work. Manage a less than enthusiastic "hello" to co-workers you don't give a damn about. Kiss your boss's ass even though he's a prick, most likely because he hasn't gotten laid in years. Hell, with that stomach, he probably hasn't seen his penis in just as long without the help of a mirror. Pretend to care about what is said at meetings. Pretend to do work when you're actually surfing the net all day. Kiss the collective asses of clients and potential clients, who are usually at least twice your age and try to earn their respect and business for the bank, even though you could care less. You're too busy thinking about actually having a life that doesn't involve sitting behind that standard issue desk in that standard issue rolling chair from the discount office supply store gripping that standard issue Bic and pushing papers all day (Hey, anything to save money and pad the CEO's pocket when it's bonus time at the end of the year). You want to be depressed? Spend the majority of your day underneath the glow of God-knows-how-many florescent light bulbs. It's enough to make you want to pack an Uzi in your briefcase and shoot all of them out one morning, right before you pump the chest of the fat man in the office next to you full of lead. You can dream, right? No worries though, his fat ass will probably keel over in the lobby floor from a heart attack on his way to get his 15th Diet Coke of the day. Surf the net some more. Curse the content filters some lemming in IT installed to keep you from looking at anything good. Check the clock. It's 5. Finally. Thank you, Jesus. Stick around another 30 minutes to look like you actually care about your job, then make a bee line for your car. Commute home. Rip off your suit and throw it in the floor. Go do something you actually care about - read, write, meet interesting people, drink a cold beer or a bourbon and water - without the personality-lacking son-of-a-bitches you work with. That is if you have the energy. Go home. Sleep. Wake up. Shit, it's only Tuesday.

Makes you want to sign right up, doesn't it? Trust me when I say a multi-million dollar salary couldn't tempt me into going back to that lifestyle.

So what have I been doing since then? I spent most of June hanging out at local coffee shops downtown, reading anything and everything I could get my hands on, as well as continuing to work on my novel (more on that, shortly), and applying for jobs here and there. I waited a whole month to break the news to my parents that I was unemployed; I just didn't want them to worry. They were a little upset at first, but understood and told me they just wanted me to be happy, regardless of what that involves me doing (as long as it's not too illegal, of course). The upside of unemployment is that you are free to do whatever you want. I think I hit every bar in a 5 mile radius of downtown at least twice during June, which got me to thinking.

As you all know, I had a tendency, in the past, to be shy. I convinced myself that in my next job I'd do something that downright forced me to talk to people. So after all the time I spend in bars, I decided to be a bartender. The money was good from what everyone I talked to had told me. That was merely a bonus. I just wanted to LIKE what I did. I went to the bar school and got training, learned everything there was to know, then found a job at a small bar. Things were fine until I found out how coked up management was. So, three weeks ago, I split. I was unemployed again. I began to panic. Almost fell back into depression. No one knew I wasn't working again. I didn't want to let anyone down. I applied at tons of bars, and got not even a single response in return.

I haven't told anyone this, and I'm not sure why I'm sharing it with all of you, but regardless, I'm sharing. One night last week I was lonely and wanted to go out for a drink. Of my small handful of friends, all were either working, with girlfriends/wives, etc. So I did what I've been doing a lot lately - I went out alone. I went to one of my regular spots downtown, and sat at the end of the bar. I ordered an Old Fashioned, one of my favorite cocktails, and savored it. I thought about life. Where I'd been. Where I was. Where I thought I'd be by now, and how big the chasm in between the two is. Life's funny like that. You can plan all you want but nothing is guaranteed, and few things work out the way we expect or hope for them to. If you asked me early in my college years where I'd be at 26 (almost 27), my response would have included some variation of the following: married or at least engaged to a beautiful young woman, settled, comfortable with a career, maybe even considering buying a house, living in a moderate-sized city. The only one of those things that I accurately predicted was the locale in which I live my life. The rest? Not even close. I think love got me here, love's elusiveness that is. Mistreatment by multiple females (whose names will not me mentioned here) sent me further down a path of depression that my job had already kick started. I've had no success in that arena since.

As I sat there on that bar stool considering everything, full of uncertainty, I began to cry. I threw down a $100 bill for a $6 drink and walked out of the bar. If that was the last tip I was ever going to leave, I was going to make sure it was a good one. I passed people on the street on the way to my car. Beautiful people. Girls with expensive silk dresses, handbags and shoes of Italian leather, and their boyfriends in Vineyard Vines or Polo. Girls and guys who go not by their first names, but by their first and middle combined. John Parker something anothers and Mary Catherine whoevers. They turned to watch me walk by, crying, but said not a word, choosing to concern themselves only with themselves. I didn't care; I was leaving that world behind. I'd always been invisible to those kinds of girls anyway, so I doubt my tears were even noticed. I cranked the car and drove through the downtown streets. Ran a couple of red lights just for fun hoping someone would hit me, but if not at the least I'd have another adrenaline rush. Unsuccessful, I parked next to the new RBC Plaza on Fayetteville Street. With the top down, I could stare all the way up to the top, almost 40 floors. Construction was still going on, the building was empty. I figured that maybe there was a way I could get in the building. Maybe I could get to the roof and leave it all behind. Leave my life on the ledge and my body on the sidewalk below. No more pain. No more loneliness. No more worry. No more me. And if the roof wasn't accessible, well then maybe I could get into one of those multi-million dollar condos on the top floors and leap from the balcony. That's the last thing I remember from Friday night, August 29th. I woke up at 5:30 AM, car still parked in the same spot, top still down, dew covering the outside of the car, the interior, and even me. I have no idea how I passed out, as I'd only had a single drink. Maybe it was God's way of sending me a message. As with most things, I guess only time will tell. I looked up at the towering building again before driving off to begin my Saturday with a cup of coffee at Cafe Helios. It cast a long shadow to the west down Hargett Street. I drove in it for a hundred yards or so before the warm sun, which was just coming up, hit me and I thought to myself, maybe I'll take just a little more time to figure things out, the RBC Plaza isn't going anywhere.