Saturday, July 23, 2016

Bigger Than Me (Feel The Love) #100daysofmusic

"The idea is to fill up Facebook with music, breaking the monotony of politics and Pokemon. The people who "like" this post will be given a letter of a musician, band or artist and you should post a video of this, including this text on your timeline..." - My friend, Kendall, on FB, from a friend of hers and so on...

This kernel inspired a new idea as I'm holy-shit-a-whole-week-late posting my letter "R," and I happen to post an "A" track instead, and find myself listening to a "B" track that inspires me...why not 100 days of music.

The 100 Days of Music Official Playlist

So for each day from today, a triple-loaded day 1, I'll post a track or artist by the letter or day or whatever I decide going forth basically* It could be a song that inspires me, makes me laugh, or one that I just pure love. THERE ARE NO RULES. ...except that I must post something everyday :)

Can't imagine a better way to start each day off than listening to some music that I love and sharing it with all those I love. I hope you feel the love from a task that is indeed bigger than me ;) I encourage anyone happening to read this to join in in whatever way, even if its just listening along with me.

*you can bet day 10, K in our one-letter-ahead system, will be Kendrick Lamar Day.

On to...

Day 1 of Music

A - Aaliyah "Try Again"

If at first you don't succeed, dust yourself and try again...

B- "Bigger Than Me" - The Game

Warning: This goes hard as fuck.

And lastly,

For my assigned letter, "R," the British drum n bass crew of whom I caught the blissful end of their set at Coachella 2014, Rudimental - "Feel The Love."

To 99 more days of music!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Desert Hearts Full of Infinite Love (Feels So Good To Me)

I woke up this morning from a night of haunting dreams, feeling lost and empty, frightened by my instability and weakness.

Rather than live in fear of these emotions as I have in the past, I put my hands over my head and lay back in meditation and introspection. I got out of bed and found just the right person to talk to, and have been pouring out tears of all types ever since.

Desert Hearts​ taught me more than I could imagine this weekend, but the real learning starts here and now. It is easy to open yourself up to your true self when you're surrounded by such a community of love and acceptance but the true test is to translate that into the reality of modern society around us.

I brought several journals with me that I shared with the community around me to allow them to share with me, and thus to us. One of my favorite entries was spoken by a new brother, Ishmael​, and beautifully transcribed by our friend Sade while we chilled in Volunteer HQ during the rain of Tuesday morning. The topic was finding true love, and the 5 things that were simultaneously necessary in order for it to work. Over and over again this summer I have struggled with one thing in my life...timing.

Through my separate conversation I realized how I have constantly felt under-prepared for EVERYTHING since a major life disruption occurred in mid-July, yet I have not once taken the step back to adjust for this, instead trying to overcompensate by hustling my fucking ass off. The hustle was real but never truly successful. I kept my head above water but was never truly afloat.

For perhaps the first time in my life I am stepping back and calling a timeout. I am postponing the show we had planned for November 28th not because I don't want to or the idea isn't great or because it isn't going to succeed, but because I am aware that the timing isn't right.

While this entry was intended to describe the qualities necessary in finding true love, I have found that moreover it describes the qualities necessary in finding true success for my newfound company. The reason for this turns out to be quite simple. While we currently appear to be another company throwing parties in LA and the surrounding area, our true purpose is to spread love and community. Through the moments we share through music, dancing, laughter, delirium...together we build a better community, one that is CONNECTED, soul to soul, peer to peer, to share our love and understanding, compassion for one another.

Together we release the shackles of a subjugated past, and break into this newfound future of enlightenment.

Together we RISE.

Love is infinite, and it feels so good to me ;)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Let's Get It (These Are My Fight Songs)

With summer now officially drawing to a close, I feel like its an appropriate time for me to share with you the songs that inspired me the most this summer, a summer which blasted me with inspiration left and right. The song did not have to come out this summer, which you will quickly realize. It does however have to have a link online, thereby disqualifying all of Dr. Dre's album (and thus allowing a far more diverse list)

In typical countdown fashion, here we go:

5) Let the Rhythm Just - The Polish Ambassador

I don't know if you could really call this a pump-up song, but this one was certainly one of the most important of the summer. I always like to have a song on deck for instances where I get overwhelmed a bit by life - frustrated by circumstances, relationships, whatever. Up until partway through the summer, that song was "Money Trees" by Kendrick Lamar, a track I still find it impossible to be unhappy to ("ya bish").

My brother Shmitty introduced me to The Polish Ambassador sometime in June and I took to him immediately. The lyrics just take you away from any sort of internal struggle...

4) The Recipe - Kendrick Lamar

You know there couldn't be an inspirational list of mine that didn't include a song from Kendrick Lamar. I liked his most recent album quite a bit but it didn't take long before I was back to listening to "Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City" when I was looking for a dose of 'drick (mind the 'r'). This one stuck out to me this summer.

"How many ways am I killing emmm, shit, right around a billionnn"

3) On Top - Flume

I was introduced to this song about 3 years late, and introduced to Flume about...however late I am on Flume by discovering him this summer.

I had the pleasure of seeing Flume twice this summer - first at LIB, second at EDC. Both sets were off the chain. Its super tough to compare the two as in the first I had no expectations and was wowed by how his drops got the crowd to shake, the second I knew some things and had the pleasure of fulfilled expectations.

This song, in particular, became our anthem for EDC, as soon as the homie Patrick (yes, THE Patrick) put it on in the car on the way to Day 1. It was then played on every single car ride to and from a minimum of once, and became my go-to pump song for the rest of the WSOP.

From the start:

"All that I want in this life is the chance to do my thing"

To the hook:

I want the top
All my people right there at the back of the spot
I need the top
If you know, you don't know me to stop
I need the top
All my people there, back at the spot
Let up the shots

This song pure inspires'd just have to look at the number of times Patty and I went back and forth via text simply "I want the top" -> "All my people right there at the back of the spot."

2) Fight Song - Rachel Platten

And we almost had a list that was all hip-hop and electronic, but I can get down to some pop too ;)

Honestly, it was a bit of a toss up as to whether or not I put this one first or second. In the end I went with the song that I went most ballistic to, but if there was a song that truly struck a chord with me this summer, it was this one.

This summer was perhaps the biggest rollercoaster I've ever been on. Poker is a pretty natural rollercoaster, but my relationships were the subject of the most turmoil. Through a series of unfortunate events/misunderstandings/communication problems/etc, one of my very best friends walked out of my life, along with a few mutually close friends.

It was around this time that I first heard this song, and it immediately became a source of strength to draw from.

Rachel Platten rips it from the heart on this one. To me, the chorus is everything:

This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I'm alright song
My power's turned on
Starting right now I'll be strong
I'll play my fight song
And I don't really care if nobody else believes
'Cause I've still got a lot of fight left in me

No explanation needed imo.

1) Let's Get It - The Lox

This track just fires me the fuck up. I don't know how or where I came across it, but its been a mainstay in any sort of prep time all summer long. If I have time for just one track when I'm getting the blood pumping, this is it. Nothin' else to it.

Niggas know it's lit cause we lit it.

Honorable Mentions:

Dr. Dre - Compton (Full Album)

I don't even know where to start with this album. Sike, yes I do - if you like rap and you haven't listened to it yet, I don't know what the fuck you're doing. If this album was up on Youtube or Spotify you would all already know, and it would also compile most of my top 5. This is one of my favorite albums ever, rivaling Kendrick's "Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City" in both production and lyrics. I like every single track on this album a LOT, but I scrapped together a top 6 (couldn't keep it to 5):

(Note on these play counts...the album came out about a month ago #addict)

1) Medicine Man (Play count: 31) - Dr. Dre feat. Eminem and Candice Pillay: Just wait for the heartbeat drop during Eminem's verse and lose your mind. Candice Pillay's cold lyrics say fuck all the haters so hard.

2) Darkside/Gone (Play count: 24) - Dr. Dre feat. King Mez, Marsha Ambrosius, and Kendrick Lamar: This is my favorite track of the three featuring Kendrick on here. Love the shoutout to Eazy E.

These lyrics spoke specifically to my doubters:

"People been tellin me I've grown into some kind of monster, but they don't know me though, I've been this way since 17."

"They'll find out when I'm gone."

3) Talking to My Diary (Play count: 24) - Dr. Dre's soliloquy and one of the few tracks actually feature in the film.

"Sometimes when I got a lot of shit on my mind
I'm just staring at the sky, you probably think that I'm high
I'm just, I'm just, talkin' to my diary
I'm just, I'm just, talkin' to my diary"

4) All In a Day's Work (Play count: 18) - Dr. Dre feat. Anderson .Paak and Marsha Ambrosius: In my most inspired summer ever, this one constantly gets me fired to get back to work, as you'll hear in the lyrics.

5) Animals (Play count: 19) - Dr. Dre feat. Anderson .Paak: An anthem for the race struggle taking place in modern America, highlighted by the tensions in St. Louis and Baltimore. This track is a straight up call out of white media, and a damn credible one at that.

6) One Shot One Kill (Play count: 17) - Dr. Dre feat Snoop Dogg: This one just goes hard and I love it. Couple of OGs.

Non-Dre Honorables:

Candice Pillay - Go Getta: Discovered her through "Medicine Man" on the Dre album...this one gets the juices going

RL Grime - Pockets: Keep a pocketful of the do the damn thing monay

J. Cole - G.O.M.D.: Get off my dick.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Just Another Brick in the Wall (Wizards Need an Education)

Never in my life have I been so frustrated by a team I cheer for.

And I'm a St. Louis Rams fan.

The Washington Wizards, after starting the season 31-15, ranking as high as 2nd in the Eastern conference for significant periods of time, have now lost 6 straight, 11 of their last 13, and 2 straight games to the worst and 2nd-worst teams in their conferences, respectively.

Let me say that last part again.  The Wizards just lost two straight games to the 13-44 Minnesota Timberwolves and the 13-45 Philadelphia 76ers.  Their 26 COMBINED wins would rank 17th in the league.

The 76ers lost the first 19 games of the season and have since traded away their best player (Michael Carter-Williams), had a 5-game losing streak of their own going in, were led at PG by a player who signed as a free agent 5 days ago (Ish Smith - sick name btw), and even got 11 minutes from Javale McGee.  JAVALE MCGEE (feel free to peruse YouTube for more gems).  We remember him.  Well, even he managed a +3 against us on Friday night.  What's perhaps worst, is it looked like an evenly matched game between two equally terrible teams.

Now, we can make excuses.  Bradley Beal, our second leading scorer, has missed 8 straight games.  Paul Pierce, the starting small forward and veteran leader, has missed the last 2.  Kris Humphries has been in-and-out with back soreness for the last few weeks.  The Wizards are 1-7 since losing Beal, but then again, they had lost 5 straight before he went out.

The Wizards offense is in shambles, and sadly, it all starts with our supposed leader, John Wall.  What the fuck has happened.  In the first 4 games since the All-Star break, Wall attempted a grand total of 3 free throws.  This is supposed to be a slasher that can get into the lane, create for himself and draw fouls.  In the game against Minnesota he never attempted a single drive into the lane, NOT ONE, in spite of having a good pick set for him on 99.9% of possessions.  He looked straight up timid with the ball, and was afraid to even take larger defenders off the dribble.  His entire game has lacked intensity.  Gone is the fiery leader that roared to the crowd after offensive and defensive plays alike.  During the Wizards 2-11 stretch, he has amassed only 10 steals, down a full steal from his season average of 1.8 per/game.  The last two games have seen him go 9/36 from the field (25%) against decidedly inferior opponents.  Brick city.

Speaking of bricks, the Wizards "3-point shooters" sure like to put up a lot of them.  Rasual Butler got off to a hot start shooting 3s this season, shooting 55% in November and 47% in December, but has since regressed to a paltry 33% in January and an awful 25% in February - right as we needed him to step up.  Martell Webster, one of our more reliable 3-point shooters the last two seasons at around 40%, has struggled to get playing time since returning from injury, and has struggled even more at converting 3-pointers, making only 23% of his attempts.  Perhaps he should stick to his rap career.  Paul Pierce, Garrett Temple, and Otto Porter represent the most consistent 3-point shooting options right now, which is probably why we're getting outscored behind the 3-point line at a 3:1 clip of late.

The troubles don't stop there.  Marcin Gortat has come out of his slump of late but both he and Nene have failed to create on their own and have both struggled off the pick-and-roll to boot.  Nene has brief flurries of activity and then disappears for the rest of the game, and is somehow ineffective on the glass in spite of his size.  This team really misses the spark that Kris Humphries brings off the bench, and I never thought I'd say that.  In fact, "Hump," as he was so lovingly called by the Kardashian clan, has shocked me in overcoming his Kardashian-related handicap to become one of my favorite Wizards.

But more than any specific part of their team offense or defense, this team has lacked the fire that it had earlier in the season.  They look lost, looking for leadership that Wall has failed to provide, along with Coach Randy Wittman.

A sad, sad team.

There are pieces of inspiration at hand.  Drew Gooden always brings tenacity off the bench.  Garrett Temple and Otto Porter have done an honorable job attempting to fill the shoes of Bradley Beal, bringing intensity on both ends of the court.  Ramon Sessions looks re-invigorated since being freed from his restraints in Sacramento.  There are guys who want to play, and they all seem to have one thing in common - they're coming off the bench.

So I think its time for a change and it starts with this: bench John Wall.  Not for an extended period of time, just one game should do.  Shake him up.  Let him know he has to be the leader of this team, they look to him for energy and inspiration, and this current shit just ain't cutting it.  It is blatantly obvious to me where Wall has been lacking on the offensive end of late, so it should be super-blatantly obvious to Randy Wittman.  If he can't figure out how to coach Wall to steadily attack the lane or is somehow unaware of his current shortcomings, he needs to be fired.

I said late in the 4th quarter of the embarrassing loss to Minnesota that I would love to see a starting lineup of Sessions, Temple, Porter, Humphries, and Gortat out there on Friday night against the 76ers.  Humphries is hurt, so give the start to Gooden.  Wake this team up.

The Wizards were a popular pick to win the East as recently as a month ago.  That fire isn't out yet, but if someone doesn't stoke it, these Wizards just might perish with winter.

For you, master bricklayer, John Wall:

Monday, May 5, 2014

Please Allow Me To Re-Introduce Myself

This has been a long time coming.

About 5 years ago, in the early stages of my poker career, I began a blog with the intention of sharing some stories from my life, a majority of which came from poker.  I was a professional Omaha player, commonly referred to as PLO (Pot Limit Omaha), thus engendering the blog title "Confessions of a Young PLOfessional."

These days I can no longer truly call myself an Omaha player, try to say I'm not a professional poker player (not many take this with much credence), and moreover, the "focus" of my blog has shifted rather far away from poker.

With this in mind, I have decided to change my blog title to "Life of a -Don," homage to a Logic song, and my extensive background as the head of a mob family.

Hopefully this will inspire me to actually start writing...

Please allow me to re-introduce myself (my name is Cole, my n*****)


There was a day and age where I liked hashtags.

I should re-phrase that (I still like hashtags).

There was a day and age where I respected hashtags.

When they first appeared, hashtags seemed the perfect literary tool.  To me, they provided something like an alter-ego within a single alternative voice a la Jim Gaffigan's audience voice (#hotpockets).  It could provide a shift to sarcasm, a summarizing point, or in times of desperation/confusion, the actual topic I'm talking about (#hashtags).  It seemed innocent enough and I enjoyed its introduction.

But now here we are in 2014...

It seems as if Instagram has installed some sort of hashtag quota that users need to fulfill in order to maintain their accounts on the site.  Over 50% of your captions are JUST words?  Get the fuck out of here.  Your caption reads like an actual sentence instead of someone trying to spit out their last words while choking on a walnut?  NOT FOR INSTAGRAM.

Do people even realize what they are writing?  #Does #anyone #realize #how #much #harder #it #is #to #read #with #all #of #these #stupid #fucking ##s #in #the #way?  Let alone TYPE.  I fear that in the future the # is going to jump right into the middle of the keyboard lest we not have to mash "Shift + 3" every time we try to write "descriptions."  There doesn't even seem to be an article clause like we have for "the" and "a" which are commonly un-capitalized in titles.  Hashtag that shit!  What if someone is trying to search for all the #a's just to see what people are saying about "A?!" You know some Chinese kid does that somewhere.

And "latergram"???  I had to go and look that shit up online the other day because I kept seeing it and wondering what the hell it was, and why in the world such an apparently meaningless word was being hashtagged in 125% of the pictures I was seeing on Facebook.  Turns out its just to notify me that "THIS WAS NOT INDEED AN INSTANTANEOUSLY POSTED PICTURE"...kind of like most pictures of most people in all day every day life...seriously.  You have no idea the amount of stress that saved me in wondering when that picture was taken.  I was all like, "Wow she's posting it at 9 pm but the sun looks like this REALLY an Instagram or are they just full of shit?  Oh it says #latergram, thank God now I can sleep."

You know what a "latergram" really is?  A normal fucking picture.  That people feel compelled to share instantaneous updates on their lives via social media tilts me enough...that they now feel the need to notify us when its not actually instantaneous...Maybe those old letters we used to write people that traveled through this ancient postal system I've heard a lot about should have included a note at the end, "P.S. Just so you know, this letter only reflects my life/views up until like 2 weeks ago, I apologize for the gross delay."

I feel like there's a few things that people are maybe missing that could help rectify this hashtagopalypse:

1) I can read words that aren't in blue.
2) It has been years since I enjoyed the "see if you can find all of these items hidden in this picture" game...I don't need your hashtag word bank (#maithai #sun #beach #sand #umbrellas #gfy)
3) No one cares when you took your pictures, unless they ask something like "when was this?" at which point you can notify them of a time-frame more meaningful than "not the exact second I posted it"
4) When you hashtag every single word you are detracting from whatever "meaningful" words you were actually trying to hashtag.  We are now just reading a sentence full of stupid delays.
5) If you were in any way offended by any of this, you should probably take a break from social media.

I miss the days when I saw "#" and thought "the pound key or something like that in the corner of the phone."

And put your fucking phones away.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wizards Sign Drew Gooden In a Blaze of Glory

The Wizards signed Drew Gooden to a contract for the rest of the season today, and I am fired up.

Drew Gooden you say?  You're fired up about Drew Gooden?

I'm fired up about how badly Drew Gooden wanted to play for this team.


To finish his second consecutive 10-day contract with the Wizards, Gooden went OFF on Saturday night, putting up 21 points in a season-high 26 minutes of play.  11 of them came in the 4th quarter when Gooden decided the game was HIS to win.

The Wizards have a plethora of 3 pt shooters - Beal, Ariza, Martell Webster, Wall loves hitting 4th quarter 3s, hell even Al Harrington can jack up the 3 ball.  But who went 1/2  in the 4th quarter from the 3 point line on Saturday with a the look of conviction in his eyes when he shot that ball?  Drew fucking Gooden.  (Note: this doesn't include the 21-footer he hit with his toe on the line that had to be reviewed for several minutes.)

The man was just launching his shots, feeling every single one.

He held his arms up to the crowd, a man on fire.

The other 3 nearly went in as well.  The man just had that look in his eyes.


Now know that going into this game, I have always hated Drew Gooden.  He was a Jayhawk, and as a lifelong Missouri basketball fan, I recognized him for the demon spawn that he was...

...or that I thought he was?  He couldn't really go the way of Mario Chalmers, my one Forgiven Son of the Jayhawk cesspool.  Did I see a fire burning around him that wasn't the fiery embers of the Inferno?  He buried a shot.

And then another shot.

My rational brain reminded me, "he's just a washed up old center, out of the league for almost a year and a half, this can't be that real."

He grabbed a ball outside, toe on the line, and straight up drilled it.

Brain: "Say what."

He said give me that fucking ball from the 3-point line son, I don't care where it is.  Late in a shot clock, he takes the ball in his hand, looks towards the basket, sees he has it.  Rattles it out.

"Oh my God he wants it," I shout at the screen, I can see that fire in his eyes.  All of a sudden I'm a proponent of this 6' 10" man launching bombs.  "Drew Gooden, who are you?!"

I know he's getting that ball back.  We all know he's getting that ball back.

He drills another shot.

Give me another 3 he says.  This is my game.  This is OUR game.  We WILL win this game.

He gets the ball outside.  I am salivating.

Drills it.

"DREW GOODEN!"  I look around the room to the no-one-else-watching in amazement.

"WHAT THE FUCK DREW GOODEN WHO ARE YOU!" I lose my shit at the screen in front of me.

He extends his arms out to the crowd (to ME), a man among men, and I am sold.  Prove yourself no further, Drew Gooden you are a part of this team, give this man the fucking ball.

In a game where the ever-steady C Marcin Gortat was held to 2 pts and a -10 rating, Drew Gooden stepped up with a +17, tacking on 9 rebounds on an incredibly efficient 8/11 from the field and 4/4 at the line.  He was the out-of-the-blue backbone to the Wizards 29-15 4th quarter.

When the clock ran down on the Wizards resolute victory, John Wall stood appropriately betrothed the rock, another man among men, roaring to the sold-out crowd around him.  The crowd roared back.  Exhibiting a near-free-will to get into the lane to create his own shots, Wall tossed in a casual 33 points himself, rising to the equal foe.

This Wizards team is here to fight.

Sure they're coasting their way into the playoffs of a horrendous Eastern Conference, but this is a team that is finally ready to be there, a team that is ready for war.

John Wall is a true leader and has emerged as the legitimate #1 overall-type draft pick the Wizards took him with in 2010.  Bradley Beal hasn't even turned 21 and drives teams fits flying around the court looking for his shot...just to briefly mention his phenomenal talent (l hope some people got to see that block from behind on Friday).  Ariza, Gortat, Nene...Booker, Webster, fucking Al Harrington (who I LOOOOOVE), newly arrived Andre Miller, now even Drew Gooden...

They might not all be household names, they might sound a little bit old, but this team can play.

Just look at how badly Drew Gooden wants to play for them.

The song of the week is inspired by my brain's "Say What" and comes from my favorite rap album of the moment J. Cole's "Born Sinner," check it out if you don't mind a little profanity.