Monthly Archives: March 2009

Please…not…yet (a dad’s nightmare)

The words cut through me like a knife, “I’m gonna marry Evon.” These words, spoken by my seven (yes seven) year old daughter, were a sucker-punch to my gut, as I sat in the passenger seat on the way home from the train station. The wife had a wry smirk on her face (she knew how I would react) as I grappled with emotions so deep I was drowning.  She was amused by her daughter’s crush.  I was crushed by my daughter’s amusement.

I thought I had more time…to formulate a gameplan..to keep boys away. I wanted to wake up from this bad dream, from this nightmare, really.  Who knew that I would have to start implementing ‘Operation Keep Away’ so early?

Operation Keep Away. My strategy for preventing my daughter from dating boys until she’s 18 (and out of the house-out of sight, out of mind). Actually, it’s the strategy to keep boys from WANTING to date my daughter, for fear of life and limb.  It’s quite simple.  The first boy to come to my door (looking for my daughter) will be greeted by a sight that will haunt him forever.

Think Rambo meets Shaka Zulu. Me, 6’3″ with dreadlocks wild atop my head; no shirt, tattoos covering my arms, chest, stomach, shoulders and back (just-released-from-prison-ex-convict-style); two large machetes tucked into the waistband of my military fatigue pants; a halo of smoke around my head; and sunglasses to cover wild-crazed eyes.  

In my best Patious, I’ll grumble, ‘What a gwan?! Whatcha bloodclot doin’ pon me door?!’ At which point, the young man will wet himself and run home, terrified. He’ll tell all his friends of the horrible man at 120 High (the last house on the right-literally), and my daughter will be date-less until she goes off to college.

Now the wife thinks my strategy is for the birds, but what does she know? And my daughter is blissfuly unaware of the terroristic nature of her pronouncements.  

A cold sweat covers my brow as I type this post.  

I really thought I had more time….

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Brand Dude, It’s All About The Dude

I recently saw a trailer for the movie ‘I Love You Man,’ a comedy starring Paul Rudd, whose character goes on ‘man dates’ to find a best man for his wedding. It’s apparently about one guy’s search for ‘bro love’-the kind of relationships that heterosexual (and platonic homosexuals) males have for one another.

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Being a ‘man’s man’ myself, I thought it appropriate to talk about the prototypical man’s man, Brand Dude.  

Who is Brand Dude? you ask. And what makes Brand Dude, the Dude? Good questions, and I will answer each, in turn.

Who is Brand Dude? First, Brand Dude is the iconic Dude (I know it’s bad form to use a word to define a word, but in this instance it’s appropriate). Brand Dude is any man that elevates being a dude to an art form. He’s the one you think of when you think of cool. Suave? (Need you ask?) Check. Confident? Of course, but never arrogant. Handsome? Duh! Women swoon and blush at a mere, ‘do you have the time?’ Brand dude is what every regular dude aspires to be.

We’ve seen countless examples of Brand Dude in our lives, but they’re sometimes so cool, that we fail to acknowledge their innate dudeness. Ashton Kutcher, (funny, cougar-loving) dude. Steve McQueen, Brand Dude. George W, dude (dumb dude, but dude nonetheless). Barack, Brand Dude.  A-Rod, (trifling, lying, two-timing, steroid-poppin’) dude. Hank Aaron, Brand Dude.  T.I., (small, bout-to-do-a-bid-for-illegal-gun-possession) dude.  Jay Z, Brand Dude.

What makes Brand Dude, THE Dude? Brand Dude makes being a dude look easy. We all know ‘dudes.’ They’re the ones who show up at the party with the six pack of Bud. Brand Dude arrives with the case of Heinekens. Dudes will buy you a drink. Brand Dude runs a tab. Dudes brag about their sexual escapades. Brand Dude kisses, but never tells. While dudes walk about with chests a’ puffin’, Brand Dude glides through life with an air of quite assurance.

Women, don’t settle for any ol’ dude, find yourself a Brand Dude.  

Dudes, don’t let women pass you by because you’re just a plain ol’ dude, improve your stock and become BRAND DUDE.

This has been a public service announcement.

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Mr. Bike, thank you very much

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So I’ve got this canary yellow Cannondale Super V500, which my wife and I bought as wedding presents to ourselves (her’s is grey).  While the wife’s bike languishes, permanently hung from the ceiling in our garage (she prefers the elliptical for her workouts), mine gets a regular run.

I’ve been pedaling around Montclair for the past 8 years. I go everywhere on it, and for the past year, I’ve been biking to the Bay Street station to catch the train to and from the city. What’s ordinarily a brisk 15-20 minute walk, takes me and my trusty Cannondale about 4 minutes. Every morning (weather permiting), I jump on my bike and boogie to the station.  After work, I unlock it, jump on and pedal home.  

Yesterday, after getting off the train, I was unlocking my bike when a woman, coming down the steps behind me remarked, ‘Oh, YOU’RE the bike guy!’ I’m the bike guy? And who the hell are you, ‘awkward comment lady’? This morning, as I made my way to the train, someone yelled out ‘Hey bike man!’ Is there a piece of paper with ‘bike man’ taped to my back? A few weeks ago, a crossing guard waved and said, ‘Go ‘head, bike dred!’ (I found that one particularly clever).

Well, it’s finally dawned on me that a 6’3″ black man with dreadlocks on a big yellow mountain bike is a fairly uncommon sight.  ‘Bike man,”bike guy’ and ‘bike dred’ are all people’s attempts to put words to the inexplicable.  I’ve got to admit, I’m rather amused by my local celebrity.  Whether its the fact that I’ve got a cool bike that I whip around Montcleezy, or the fact that I’m such an anamolous sight, people have clearly taken notice of this man on his cycle.  

Anyway, if you see me, feel free to say ‘Hi.’ But (a word to the wise) if you’re going to call out my name, it’s ‘Bike Guy’ or  ‘Mr. Bike’ if you’re nasty.

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Everything happens for a reason

I constantly tell people, when faced with adversity, that everything happens for a reason. Even the most devastating events possess profound meaning for those capable of stepping outside of themselves and assessing a situation from a perspective of cool detachment.

Now obviously, obtaining ‘cool detachment’ is the challenge, isn’t it. And one is not to be faulted for their inability to separate themselves from the emotions that invariably accompany difficult situations. But as a matter of course, my advice to people is to try to focus on the meaning behind the event.

Like most people, I don’t necessarily follow the advice I dole out.

Case in point.  Last weekend, I went to the Wayne Mazda dealership to buy a car. When I got there, it was a fricking zoo. This dealership was a Wayne Mazda/Hyundai dealer, and with the Hyundai Assurance promotion they’re running, folks were lined up to purchase one of the fleet of if-I-get-fired-I-can-return-it-no-questions-asked Hyundais.

 

This is what my Jeep looks like (less the chrome grill).

This is what my Jeep looks like (less the chrome grill).

I was originally looking for a CX9, but after walking the lot, and checking my budget, I settled on a 2006 Jeep Commander (the same model I was currently in). When I finally got to speak to Sergio Alvarado, my salesperson, it was almost closing time, so I left a deposit, signed some paperwork, and made an appointment to come in later in the week to pick up the car.

Returning a few days later to finish my transaction, I was told that someone had placed a deposit on the Jeep before me, and that I would have to wait until Saturday to see if they would complete the purchase. Angry doesn’t even begin to express the ‘I’m-going-to-bitch-slap-you-o-bearer-of-bad-news’ emotion welling inside me as the salesperson (Ben, not my sales guy, but some other dude) explained the inexcusable error that was depriving me of the vehicle I had my heart set on.

Seething, I left the dealership (after begrudgingly re-walking the lot to see if there was another car I could accept in my precious Jeep’s stead-there was not). When I got home, I gave poor wifey an earful about how full of shit the dealership was, what a shoddy outfit Wayne Mazda was running, and how I was going to blog about it (and get the five people that read my blog to permanently boycott all the Mazda dealerships in the world).

When I finished my hissy-fit, my wife spoke the same sage words I had spoken to many a hissy-fitter in my day, “don’t worry, everything happens for a reason.” She went on to reason that despite the fact that I liked the car, there were things about it that I didn’t like, and everything (despite how pissed off I was) would work itself out. Truer words have never been spoke.

Sergio called me up to come in to the dealership on Saturday. When I got there, my Jeep had, in fact, been sold. But there were three more shiny Commanders sitting on the lot.

Today, I drove home in my bigger, badder and deffer Jeep Commander. It’s a sleek black crystal pearl with chrome accents (the other one was a pedestrian Khaki with no chrome accents). It’s got a sunroof in the front and passenger sections (which the one I originally wanted didn’t). There are fog lamps on the front spoiler (negatory on the fog lamps on that other Jeep). Oh yeah, it’s also got 11,000 less miles on it (Khaki-no-chrome-no-sunroof-no-fog-lamps had 25,000), and cost me almost $100 less a month.

In my anger, I failed to see that I wasn’t REALLY sold on that Khaki chumpy in the first place.I had been at the dealership for over 5 hours on that first go-round, and I felt like they OWED me the vehicle I had suffered for. I couldn’t step outside of myself and examine the situation from that cool detached perspective, and was far too invested in my emotions.

The point of this post is actually two-fold: first, everything DOES happen for a reason; second: if you’ve ever looking for a car, those guys at Wayne Mazda rock!

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Brand Dad

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Everywhere you look, there’s stuff for moms. Parenting books and magazines, like Parenting and Cookie, are geared towards mothers. Pregnancy books, like the Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy and What To Expect When You’re Expecting, are focused on mothers. Television shows about families, like The Duggars, usually highlight the moms. Mothers have numerous networking and support groups, like Mocha Moms. They even have their own Twitter (TwitterMoms)!  

Resources for moms seem to be everywhere, and are particularly well known. For dads, not so much. I was inspired to write this post because one of my colleagues (a non-parent, I might add) suggested that dads need the same kind of resources and visibility that moms get. What about the dads? Where is the Boyfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy? Where is the dad’s Twitter? Mocha Dads Who is our Oprah?  

I was on a mission. But now that I’ve done some research (albeit superficial research), I see that the premise for writing this post (the lack of resources for dads, and our general second-class-citizenship as parents) is a little inaccurate. We are second-class citizens when it comes parents (moms are still tops), but we are citizens none-the-less.  

While there’s no ‘Boyfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy, there is The ‘Blokes’ Guide to Pregnancy. In fact, there’s also a Twitter Dads and Mocha Dads (a local husbands/spouse/significant other offshoot of the DC chapter of Mocha Moms). Virtually all mommy resources have (some sort of) a daddy compliment to them.

Hmmm…well why don’t I know about all these resources? Why aren’t the resources for dads as well known or publicized as those for moms? (Gotta save face!) For example, with this whole Nadya Suleman octuplets thing, I haven’t seen one interview focused on the challenges dads face raising multiples (and I realize that there is no ‘dad’ per se in the cut). I’m just saying, can we get a sound bite?

Actually, forget a sound bite! We need our own branded (non-offshoot-of-some-better-more-highly-pubicized-mom-version) ish! I want a magazine! I want a television show! I want a convention! All fathers tired of second-class citizenry, rise up! Let your voices be heard! Let us unite for a common purpose–the upliftment of daddies everywhere! Let us throw off the oppressive yoke of parental obscurity!

Ummm…but let’s keep it down…I don’t want the women finding out, stealing our thunder and pimping ‘Brand Mom’ before we get organized.

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Linkedin A Recession

I joined Linkedin in August 2007, which isn’t all that long ago, considering the fact that Linkedin has been around since 2003.  But I still think myself progressive none-the-less.  When I joined, I made it a point of inviting everyone I knew professionally to ‘link-in’ with me, and to date 176 people have acepted my invitation.

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Interestingly, I found that there are different types of people on Linkedin. There are your ‘purist’ Linkedin users, who only accept invitations from people they have dealt with professionally or in some formal professional capacity.  I learned this when I invited a colleague (at a different company) that I knew casually to become a contact.  He politely declined, explaining that it was his practice to accept invitations only from people he knew personally and (could vouch for) professionally (and I’m not mad at him).

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the ‘MySpace’ Linkedin user, who sees Linkedin as another social networking tool and is simply looking to aggrandize as many connections as possible, as if it were a popularity contest.  I met this guy at a conference, and the instant after meeting me and securing my card in his grubby hands, I wasy inundated with requests to ‘be friends’ and ‘link-in.’  I’m sorry dude, but I don’t know you like that.  Don’t know, check.

Recently, I’ve identified a third type of Linkedin user. This is someone you’ve known professionally for years, have worked with and can attest to their professional pedigree.  However, they only associate with people on their level or greater (so good luck getting Linkedin to them).  I’ve named them (appropriately enough) the ‘User’ Linkedin user because your invitation will languish in their inbox, pending approval, indefinitely. But the minute they need something from you, PING! ‘Invitation Accepted.’

My email has been overflowing with pings from Users.  Folks I haven’t heard from in years are suddenly trying to get Linkedin.  Now I’m not saying their desire to build professional networks is disingenuine, but we are in a recession…

Perhaps I’ll let a few of them sit for a lil’ while.

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Trade shows and more shows

I LOOOOOOVVEEEEE trade shows…and conferences…and conventions…and panels…and seminars…and I could go on and on.  I love them because they are usually in different places (different from where I live) and involve the exchange of information, networking and parties (I love to party).  I generally leave conferences energized and RFTW.  I haven’t been to anything since BESLA 2008 in St. Thomas, USVI, and I’m jonesing.

So I’ve got a tradeshow coming up and I’m trying to get my game face together.  It’s the CTIA Wireless 2009, one of the largest mobile conferences of the year.  CTIA occurs twice a year, once in California (either San Diego or San Francisco), and once in Las Vegas.  It’s a must-attend for anyone interested in the mobile industry.

Last year, I was featured in a video in the Mobile Industry Review, by Ewan MacLeod and I was quite a hit (apparently), considering how often I appeared in the video.  It was quite accidental, I walked back into our booth, and my boss turned Ewan (and his camera) on me and said ‘talk to him!’  This year, I’m feel like I’ve got to go above-and-beyond my previous output, lest my star fade or fall!

I’m quite excited to go, since I’ve missed a few shows this year (CES,  GDC, Mobile World Congress) and I will not likely got to the few upcoming events before CTIA (WMCSXSWLA Games Conference, Billboard’s ME Live!) – although I would reaaallllllyyy like to.  C’est la vie.

Hopefully I’ll catch a few of the larger shows throughout the balance of the year, like CMJ, E3, Ad:Tech, Cannes, NY Games Conference, and M3 (to name a few).  But who knows.

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Rihanna marries Chris Brown? WTF!!

knockedupI just heard that Rihanna married Chris Brown at a secret ceremony at Diddy’s mansion, and I’m totally befuddled.  I’ve been waiting patiently for someone to step up and publicly say something about the alleged assault of Rihanna by Chris Brown. If, for no other reason, then to tell young black girls that IT’S NEVER OK FOR ANY MAN TO PUT HIS HANDS ON YOU.  Mary J? Tina? Keyshia? Oprah? Tyra? Russell?  Anyone?  But now they’re married?  WTF!

Really Rihanna?  Girl don’t you have anyone in your life that can give you good advice and counsel?  This fool lumped you up and left you on the side of the road, bleeding and battered.  Is this the guy you want to spend the rest of your life with?  And if so…WHY?  I’m at a complete loss. 

What concerns me most, is the fact that these two highly public figures are engaged in a highly public issue that MILLIONS of people are watching, but no one is saying what needs to be said.  Someone of sufficient public standing, should offer a PSA about domestic abuse. Young men should be told that it’s never ok to abuse or hit women, regardless of how angry you may be.  Young women need to hear that they should never tolerate any form of abuse (verbal, physical or otherwise).

Maino was on Hot 97 speaking to FunkMaster Flex about this, and his position was that we don’t know what happened, so we should reserve judgment.  Fair.  But if you’ve seen the pictures, and read the allegations FROM RIHANNA, it doesn’t take a forensic scientist to see that someone (read Rihanna) was on the wrong end of a beating (regardless of whether it was provoked, self-defense or any of the myriad of reasons I’ve heard as to why Chris Brown may have done whatever he did).

I’ve got two daughters and a son.  My son (who is 5) regularly receives lessons on respecting women and not hitting his sisters (one older and one younger).  My daughters are being raised to respect themselve and demand that others respect them as well. And they all take karate (I don’t play that sh*t).  You had best believe that I will not be sitting idly by while some dude puts his hands on my child.  If Rihanna were my daughter, Chris Brown would be lumped up right now.  Trust.

But back to my original point – we (Black people) need to make a statement, that denounces violence towards women.  Domestic abuse is a big problem in our community, and this Rihanna/Chris Brown debacle has only made it worse.  Unless something DRASTIC is done (soon), a new wave of young girls are going to think its ok when their boyfriends/spouses abuse them. Wayward boys are going to think that the abuse of women is acceptable. And the cycle of violence continues.

Whoever reads this, please pass it along, maybe this plea will reach someone of standing, who will hear this call to action and make a statement that sticks.

Update, as of the writing of this post, Oprah HAS done two specials on thie subject.  Steve Harvey has talked about it on his radio talk show, and countless other celebrities in the black community have spoken out about domestic violence.  Apparently, Rihanna and Chris Brown are also ‘taking a break.’ 

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By Denene Millner

The actual original front cover, before 'editing.'

The original front cover, before 'editing.' Kinda looks nice, dontcha think?

So my girl Denene Millner, world famous author, blogger, mom and all-around peeps (I’ve written about her in the past), recently released another book, Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy and Commitment, which she wrote with Steve Harvey.  Now anyone who knows Denene, knows that virtually everything in that book sounds like Denene, but we’re gonna let Steve Harvey get that one (wink, wink).

The 'after' cover that went to print.  What a shame.

The 'after' cover that went to print. What a shame.

 

Denene is clearly on the come-uppance (as she has always been since I’ve known her), but the intensity of her star shines a tad brighter, when a book she pens ends up number one on the New York Times Best Seller List.  Now I’m not saying that I know people….I don’t mean to brag…but Denene and I ARE rather close…so I guess you can say, I know people.

But seriously, all props to my girl Denene on another successful book!  

Denene, I know all of five people read my blog, so I aint trippin’ about putting up this little ditty, but you know I got you!  

Just so you know I know.  (c:,’

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