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: