Respect my generation…

Let me start off by saying that I don’t have a problem with authority figures. I don’t buck authority whenever I get the chance. There have been times when I admitted to not being fond of the police, but I still have a great deal of respect for any non-corrupt man or woman that protects and serves with pride and dignity. I’ve had my fair share of battles with teachers and coaches, but I don’t feel that I’ve ever crossed a line. Yes, I’ve had plenty of arguments with Karen, but I always acknowledged how much she meant/means to me.

I’m fully aware that there are members of my generation that can have their attitudes summarized with one word: unruly. However, that is not the prerogative of all of us. We are not all hell-bent on making the lives of those around us harder. Regardless of what people of previous generations may think, most of us do not think that we are “all-knowing”, and don’t feel entitled to everything, while wanting to do nothing in the process. It’s absurd to think that we set out to screw up every opportunity given to us. Most of us are not infatuated with gangster rap, not content with moderate success, and we understand that it’s up to us, and nobody else, to make our future more than the coming hours, days, weeks, months, and years.

Still, we are labeled as rebellious, reckless, uneducated, thugs, promiscuous, carefree, brash, et cetera, et cetera. Talk to enough people that are 40 and older, and eventually you’ll hear “When I was younger…”, “These young people nowadays…”, or “I swear this generation…”. We are not held in high regards in those statements, most often. This unnerves me to no end, and is truly disheartening. It’s sad because these are people that should aim to mentor us, guide us down a better path, and be there for us in whatever way they can, rather than cut us down at every turn.

One example of this can be found in sports. You will often hear older and retired players make disparaging remarks about the current generation of players. They opine that current young players are only in it for the money, don’t respect the game or their predecessors, don’t work at their craft, and totally disregard their fans. Obviously, this is true when it comes to a few athletes, who have been criticized for their behavior recently.

We’ve seen the Allen Iverson press conference in which he openly mocked anyone who feels that he should attend practice everyday. We’ve heard Latrell Sprewell say that he would not play for the Minnesota Timberwolves because he didn’t like their contract offer of $30 million over 3 years. Due to make almost $15 million for the upcoming season, he backed up his stance with the reasoning, “I got my family to feed.” Anquan Boldin, now a wide receiver on the Baltimore Ravens, demanded a trade…because he wanted a contract extension that his previous team, the Arizona Cardinals, wasn’t ready to give him. Chris Andersen, a power forward for the Denver Nuggets, was suspended by the NBA for two years for violating its substance abuse policy. Other athletes in other sports(especially baseball)have been suspended for the same offense. We’ve seen Zinedine Zidane(an Algerian playing for the French national team)headbutt Marco Materazzi(Italian)during a soccer match, after Materazzi allegedly called him a terrorist. Those that watch hockey either saw or heard of Marty McSorley hitting Donald Brashear over the head with his stick, or Todd Bertuzzi blindsiding Steve Moore, causing him serious injuries. Although these are individual cases, it seems as if older, former players and even older sports fans attribute this behavior to the fact that this is a part of our generation’s way of living.

It’s very easy to say that you didn’t play the game for money when there wasn’t much to be made. It’s easy to put down an athlete that demands a trade when trades were unheard of decades ago. The same goes for free agency, signing bonuses, and endorsement deals. Include violence, to an extent. Conveniently, many of these older people leave out the fact that Ty Cobb was a racist, Wilt Chamberlain and Babe Ruth were womanizers, the 1919 White Sox threw the World Series for money, Pete Rose gambled, committing baseball’s cardinal sin, Mickey Mantle was a drunk during his playing days, and Jim Brown and Ted Williams weren’t the nicest people around.

One claim that I have huge problem with is the notion that we’re spoiled. I’ve never understood how older adults could complain about how today’s youth is spoiled when they’re the ones that made us this way. I vividly remember seeing many of my elementary, junior high, and high school classmates wearing the latest pair of Jordans, $250 Coogi sweaters, girls with $300 Coach bags, and guys with $600 leather jackets. Of course, we asked for them, but if we heard “no”, I’m sure that it wouldn’t have killed us. Say what you want, but if somebody agrees to buy you something that you want(especially when you’re in high school, and think popularity is everything), most times, you’ll accept it.

In addition, most of these “marketing execs” aren’t 20-25 years old. The people that spend hour after hour trying to figure out how to sell their product at inflated prices sure don’t have a moral compass, yet we’re the ones that are ridiculed and insulted because we happen to be the chief consumers. I understand that superficiality and materalism seem to run rampant now, but the only thing we’ve been spoiled by are a plethora of ways to express ourselves. Don’t be upset with us because we’re not living in the monotonous 60s and 70s.

As for implications that my generation doesn’t value ourselves or society, I’m afraid I have to call bullshit. Really? Are you serious? Granted, we didn’t have to deal with Jim Crow, or the civil rights issues of the 60s and 70s. Yes, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan are what many people my age will tell our grandchildren about when we’re of that age, but they pale in comparison to World War I and II, and the Vietnam War. Men aren’t losing their lives in coal mines, and women have every opportunity to be successful, unlike the obstacles that men and women faced in the US many years ago. For the most part, we have it slightly easier than our parents and grandparents did.

Yet, at the same time, I feel that it’s harder than ever to simply survive. In what is supposed to be the greatest nation on Earth, we are struggling to get jobs, pay for college, and clear debt. Gangs populate neighborhoods, we’re losing friends everyday, and(due to our own irresponsibility, for the most part), are bringing children into this world when we’re still, honestly, children ourselves. Consider the political climate of this country, and you have a recipe for a rough future.

If we stand up for something, we’re seen as rebels and disrespectful. I know more than a few 40-, 50- something people that have gushed about “free love”. How easy it is to be a whore when you don’t have to worry about the ramifications of your actions. We don’t enjoy the same luxury. With the STDs present, we can’t afford to give ourselves to anyone that’s available. Penicillin doesn’t cure any serious ailment besides strep throat, to my knowledge. Neither can we afford to melt our minds with hardcore drugs. It is a “kill or be killed” world now, from sports to corporate settings, and we simply can’t waste years of our lives being intoxicated, inebriated, or incapacitated. I know that this doesn’t apply to every person twice my age, but again, it’s amazing how these things can be glorified, depending on who you speak to. How do you think a 2010 Woodstock would be perceived?

Yes, there are members of my generation that cause me to shake my head in bewilderment. I find myself dumbfounded at what some of my peers stand for. Gucci Mane, Tyler Perry, gang warfare, illiteracy, dishonesty, and irresponsibility are just a few of the things that have me feeling like we don’t understand as a generation that we’re capable of so much more than perpetuating negative stereotypes. That doesn’t give anyone the right to make a blanket statement about my generation, though. It seriously pains me to hear older people constantly make generalizations about my generation from their self-righteous thrones. After all, they were our age once, and their beliefs and actions were called into question by their parents and grandparents. So I’m a little confused by all of the shock about our decision to live life the way we choose to. And for some reason, some don’t believe me when I say the generation gap is steadily widening…

P.S. I miss Karen!!!

P.P.S. If you were offended by this post, you might want to reevaluate your way of thinking…

Yeah…I don’t do New Year’s resolutions…

Seriously, I don’t. I touched on this briefly in another blog, and I think that I gave a pretty decent explanation for why I feel this way. To be a little more in-depth…

I think New Year’s resolutions are stupid. If you want to better yourself, more power to you. I encourage it, actually. So many people nowadays are content with their current position, that they fail to realize that unless you’re perfect, you can always improve. But to screw around for an entire year, and on the last day of that year decide that you’re going to somehow be more productive, efficient, successful, etc….is sad. Millions of people do this every year. And what’s even sadder is that most don’t make any forward progress in reaching their “goals”. From “I will stop smoking” to “I will be a better man” to “I will donate to charity”, these are resolutions that usually go ignored after several weeks of the new year, anyway. This laziness often shows up in relationships. When it’s brand new, one makes sure to be on the ball as much as possible. Once the relationship gains weight, the little things stop. There’s a routine. A sense of accomplishment comes into play, and the relationship eventually suffers.

I have some advice: Do better…no…BE better, 365 days a year. No one expects your “A” game everyday, but I know that I expect an earnest effort. If you can’t put forth at least a decent effort, maybe you should isolate yourself from the rest of society and forget about New Year’s resolutions. Nothing can save you. You’re like Paris Hilton in a college classroom: a lost cause.

I think it’s safe to say that my 2009 won’t be listed among my favorites anytime soon. It started off at a wack New Year’s party with a girlfriend that I later discovered was just going through the motions. Somehow, an engagement followed. A few months later, we split like cheerleaders at a competition. Disappointment and heartbreak decided to pay me a visit. I quit my job not long after, and sleptwalked through a sub par summer, highlighted by bad weather and boredom. I figured I’d have to chalk the year up as another “lost year”, try to start anew, and then…

Things started to turn around once I was introduced to Billie Frechette. I had to remove someone from my circle, but it was well worth it. Time passed, Billie and I became closer, and we began committing crimes on a nightly basis. To cap my 2009, I spent the last few days of the year (and the first of 2010) knocking over banks and stealing cars with Ms. Frechette. The majority of 2009 may have been something I’d like to forget, but the end filled me with optimism for 2010.

Although I was involved in a failed relationship, I never felt as if I needed to make a resolution to be a better boyfriend. I gave that relationship, and her, everything I had. My friends know how to get in touch with me, and I let them know whenever I can that I’m here for them. I don’t need January 1 to start practicing loyalty or trustworthiness. My Granny B would get my last dollar if she needed it, whether at the beginning or end of the year. The same goes for the little brah. And Billie Frechette. Everyone in my circle will be treated as if they were in my circle ALL YEAR, and they’ll get nothing less from me.

Life is too short to drift through a year without worries, and then try to turn it around for the next year. I may be only 24, but I just don’t feel that I have that kind of time.

I remember one of my friend’s father telling me, “New Year’s resolutions are for people who know they’ve just wasted an entire year.” Mr. Nathan, I now know what you were talking about…

P.S. I miss Karen!!!

P.P.S. #shoutout to Granny B, Adam J, Billie Frechette, Charity, Little Jackie, Lauren, Jon, @CrimeDoesPay, Peach, Tiara in her tiara, Sarahsota, Brian, Amber Rose Jr, Mary, Miss DJ, Fowler, Nani, Quick, Lauren Jackson, Christian, SonyaRoi, James, Chip, Dion, Phil, Manny, Big Ron, Little Ron, Tenisha, Cause, J-mar, Vito, Dina, D, Jonboy, Ali, Darrell, the Animal House, all of my Sigma, Zeta, and Spartan family, and everyone who strives for excellence everyday, and not just December 31, at 11:59 PM…

What happened to you this year, Summer Solstice?

I cannot tell a lie. I did not fully enjoy this summer. I say this, mainly because of the uncharacteristic weather during the summer here in Chicago. Example: The average temperature during July (which is usually the hottest month during the year) was only 69.4 degrees. 69.4 degrees?!?! That’s great…for the month of April or May! Add the fact that Chicago borders Lake Michigan, and 69 degrees feels more like 64 degrees. I’m not sure if the temperature reached 90 degrees ONCE this summer. We rarely saw days where the temperature reached higher than 85 degrees, even. The 4th of July? Horrible. I don’t think the temperature was more than 75 degrees, and it was an overcast, rainy day. When you think of the summer, you think of hot, sun-filled days. When you can step outside at 9am and see nothing but sunshine. When you can step outside at 9pm and still feel the warmth that is the summer. It should not be hoodie or even light jacket season. It should be outdoor patio and rooftop dining season. Many of us had plans hindered by this past summer’s crappy weather. Whether it was an evening out, trip to the beach, or simple late-night walk. The summer brings joy and optimism, and frankly, this summer’s weather put a damper on many people’s moods. Couple that with the fact that the year 2009 has seemingly gone by faster than years’ past, and it almost feels as if there was no summer at all. Now, we find ourselves officially dealing with autumn. It’s a shock really, seeing as how so many didn’t get the proper chance to enjoy their summer. I guess that all we can do is wait for June 21, 2010, and hope that Summer Solstice puts forth a better effort to be there for us next go-round. P.S. I miss Karen!!! P.P.S. #shoutout to my favorite nerd

Busting gnarly kickflips, son…

I learned how to skateboard at the age of 7. Back when skateboarding was mainly prevalent in white, suburban areas. My cousins, Rafi and Moksha, decided to visit from Atlanta. Sitting on my front porch, I saw Rafi ride his skateboard up and down my block. (I only knew what he was doing because of my love for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) I immediately asked him to teach me how to skateboard, which he agreed to. He woke me up at 7am the next morning (a Saturday morning) and for the rest of the day, I fell, got back up, fell, got back up, rested, fell some more, and got back up some more. After accumulating about 104 scratches and 13 sprains, I could proudly call myself a skateboarder. I’d ride my skateboard EVERYWHERE. I took pride in the fact that while all of my friends rode their bikes, I followed on my skateboard. Over the next few years, I was ridiculed for participating in a “white boy sport”, even though skateboarding is more of an activity than a sport, in my opinion. I didn’t understand why so many of my black friends LOVED TMNT, but couldn’t grasp how skateboarding could be fun. As a teen, I was a hot dog skater, basically, for the ladies. That went on until I tried to hitch (skating while holding onto a bike,car, etc…which I advise skaters to NEVER try) one day, and ended up shattering my forearm. I’ve only experienced a greater pain once, and that was when I cracked two ribs. Let’s just say, that since then, impressing the ladies with my skating hasn’t been my top priority. Shortly after that, suddenly, skateboarding became popular in urban areas, and moreso amongst minorities as well. Credit Stevie Williams, Teddy Kennedy, Tony Hawk, Pharrell, Lupe, whoever…for it becoming acceptable to “be from the hood” and ride a skateboard. I haven’t ridden in more than a month (I tried to bust a manual to impress a gal and suffered some bruised ribs) but I plan to ride this weekend with Martina, J Earl, and Kidd Skidd to officially say goodbye to the summer. Just a nice, casual ride. No ollies, or nose manuals. I know this, though. When it comes to skateboarding, it’s refreshing to see one less stereotype thrown around… P.S. I miss Karen!!! P.P.S. #shoutout to Martina (thanks for the blog inspiration, miss), J Earl, Kidd Skidd, Rafi, Laney, Sarah, Cassie aka Ms. Applebottom, and all the skater dudes and dudettes, grinding rails and acing Butterflips for the love of it…

Why are you here?

That’s what I find myself asking, rhetorically, some times. Sometimes people come into our lives and establish themselves as fixtures. Some seemingly are only present to bring us joy or pain, periodically. We can’t even find a reason as to why some are in our lives, even if their appearances are few and far between. All I know is that over the course of a month, I’ve rid myself of a nuisance, a nag, and someone “too busy” to respond to any form of communication. It amazes me how easy it was to let go. Luckily, the DOPEST person to come along in maybe…EVER is here, right now. I wanna kick myself for not embarking on this journey sooner. To travel down a road with the nuisance, nag, and busybody serving as nothing but obstacles, obviously wasn’t, isn’t, and never will be conducive to my lifestyle. Change doesn’t necessarily equate to better, but in my case, an exception has definitely been made… P.S. I miss Karen!!! P.P.S. #shoutout to Chesty Larue

Friday randomness…

That Nelson Mandela hookah still has me in a sort-of zone. I see Moe digs the Tangiers, which is cool…except for the fact that I HATE orange soda. I don’t drink anything orange (I would rather tough out a cold than drink orange juice, especially with pulp), don’t eat orange skittles, and for some reason find it hard to bring myself to eat orange M&M’s. It feels good to get everything you need to get done accomplished during the week so you can have the weekends to yourself. It’s not often when you can truly enjoy your weekends; but that’s mostly due to not TCB during the week. I could really go for a slice of philly steak pizza. I cannot believe that it was so good. I’m tempted to trek to Greektown RIGHT NOW, just for a slice. I’m REALLY tired of the “BREAKING NEWS: Kanye interrupted Patrick Swayze’s funeral to say that Michael Jackson’s was better.” jokes. It was KIND OF funny the first time. But now, after seeing it for the 1,173rd time? Not so much. I haven’t had a s’mores Pop Tart in a couple of days. Damn. I wish my Random Jazzy Woman were here with me right now. It’s so great to find someone that doesn’t equate mushiness to expressing yourself. I don’t want to or need to be called “boo”, “baby”, or “sweetie” all damn day long. You’re mad cool, Charleston Chew. I can’t believe how “elegant” @daydreams85 looked last night. She used to be the jeans-and-sneakers chick…heavy. And now she’s all semi-dolled up and ish. Good for her. Taylor Swift has a song about being in love at 15? Um…ok. When is there gonna be an all-male version of The View? And no, I don’t mean a mainstream version of The Man Show (w/Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Corrolla). I’m looking for a pair of REAL Yeezys. Size 11, holla at me. I’m geeked for the start of the Blackhawks and Bulls season. Unfortunately, either Toews, Kane, or Keith is gonna have to go after the season. I suggest that Bowman keep Toews and Kane, and let that pair lead the Blackhawks to a couple of Stanley Cups over the next decade. He should go after a bigger defenseman to serve as a shadow for Kane. The Bulls should hope that Dwayne Wade wants to trade in sunshine and no sales tax (Miami) for horrible year-long weather and the highest sales tax in the country (Chicago). Cutler stunk it up against Green Bay, but it’s not the end of the world. When the Bears beat the Steelers on Sunday, I expect to see a lot more “fans” jump back on the bandwagon. I can’t believe how dope Raekwon’s (@RAEKWONICEWATER) “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II” is. I honestly didn’t expect it to be this good. Almost expected to hear an out-of-touch Raekwon. #figures My favorite tracks were produced by Alchemist (@AlanTheChemist) and J Dilla. And track 4, “Pyrex Vision”, even though only 55 seconds long, is possibly the illest beat. Ups to Marley Marl for that production. If you haven’t heard Nicolay’s (@nicolaymusic) “City Lights Vol. 2: Shibuya”, I STRONGLY suggest you purchase that album. IMMEDIATELY. Just hearing Carlitta Durand’s (@CarlittaDurand) voice on “Saturday Night” makes me wanna go out and get it in EVERY night. I do believe I’ll be visiting this frequency more often… P.S. I miss Karen!!! P.P.S. #shoutout to all of my readers and Twitter followers…

To Jay-Z, or not to Jay-Z?

Anyone that knows me knows that even though I’m a fan of Jay-Z, I really haven’t truly appreciated his music since Reasonable Doubt. In 8th grade, when he was on a track with DMX, titled “Money, Cash, Hoes”, I thought to myself, ‘THIS is the greatest since Biggie?’ I felt that he kind of became the king by default. While Snoop had national appeal in the early 90s, in the mid, late 90s, rap had a more East Coast feel. Think about it. What has Snoop done since Doggystyle? He’s had a nice single here and there, but I’m not sure what the hell he’s doing nowadays. Is he singing? Rapping? Rapping and singing? Oy vey… I digress. Jay-Z has released Blueprint 3. From what I’ve heard, I have no reason not to buy this album. I’m not someone that is skeptical because he’s 40+. An emcee is an emcee, point, blank, peri-ahd. I sometimes wonder… Is Jay-Z still making music PURELY for the love of it, or to periodically assert himself in the game? It’s unfair to solely accuse Jay of perpetuating an artist disguising a hunger for attention, money, and commercialism with something that I should hear. I just find myself going back to Reasonable Doubt. Besides the lyricism, there was a hunger and passion that seemed to subside a little once Jay found fame and fortune. Again, he’s not the only one to start out starving like Marvin, and turn into Garfield. (Don’t get me started on Wayne) It’s just I believe he should be held to a higher standard, if he is, since unretired, the best rapper alive(sorry, Wayne). Guess I’ll be copping @RAEKWONICEWATER Only Built For Cuban Linx 2 and BP3 tomorrow… P.S. I miss Karen! P.P.S. #shoutout to Tiara in her tiara, KMo, Minnie Mouse, Adam J., @MoeRucker, Peach, and my “anounomus” texter…

Crushes

I HAD to chore(ups to @bishlu77 for the new vernacular)this one from my Blogspot page…
Seriously, I’ve probably had 1,000 crushes in my lifetime. They might last a day, week, or month. I could have a crush on one chick, or two,or six at a time. She could be Black, White, Italian, Greek, Cuban, Mexican, et cetera. Goth-emo chick or round-the-way girl. My crush could range from a chick from Westwood, Cali to Bridgeport, Connecticut. Sneaker chicks. Heel chicks. Loud chicks. Quiet chicks. Party animals. Homebodies. Chicks that smoke weed. Chicks that don’t even sip liquor. She could be in love with me or not even know I exist. I might crush on someone because of a hat or scarf she wears. Maybe because of her sneakers or the fact that she sounds hot when she says the word “fuck”. I crush on brainiacs and chicks that don’t know the difference between digital and analog. I crush on uppity chicks and those that embody the meaning of humble. I’ve crushed on athletes and cheerleaders. I’ve crushed on a model and a chick that has never owned makeup. She’s been a hard-core Conservative and a full-blown hippie. Sports or reality show fanatic. Thick and slim. Long hair, short hair. All of these are simply crushes. And there are plenty more where those came from… P.S. My current crush is a stretch, but a crush nonetheless…

The Sneaker Files

Hi, my name is Erik, and I am addicted to sneakers. True, I gave away half of my kick collection to charity at the end of last summer, but I am still pretty well off. I have Clarks loafers and wallabees. I have a pair of Joes. There’s nothing like my sneakers. I grew up an athlete, so they were always a part of my everyday life, even when I played baseball and football, to an extent. I went to a high school that was fucking shoe-crazy. It seemed that half the school were sneakerheads. I was addicted to Air Force Ones. Mid-top, white. Had to have at least one pair a month. I rocked Jordans. I remember going with my best friend to KREW to pay $180 for the IVs…so we could wear them a week early. It didn’t matter that the Mikes would come out on a Tuesday during school; it gave me a reason to cut class. Since high school, I’ve realized that sneakers are my thing. ESPECIALLY chicas(shoutout to Fowler, Martina, Peach, Moe, and Lacey)in sneakers. It’s not that a chick in heels doesn’t register, it’s just sneakers represent a more laid-back attitude(to me), which meshes with mine. It’s something about seeing a chick rockin’ lip gloss, jeans, and Nikes(again, shoutout to Peach)that makes my record skip a tad. I don’t feel I’m “too old” to rock sneakers, and I can’t stand when a woman my age says the same thing about herself. I know how to clean up, and clean up well. I have suits, and dress clothes. I love my skinny ties. It’s just I don’t see what’s wrong with a v-neck, jeans, and hi-tops. These two pair of sneakers have definitely captured my attention. Then again, what halfway decent sneaker doesn’t? P.S. I thank those that make my decision to stay single seem smart.