Sunday, December 20, 2009

Deuces: Down Under, The Year 2010





I'll be on the other side of the world for a few weeks.  I wanted a way to keep you all engaged and stay abreast of you and your thoughts between now and February, so I've listed some magazines below for you to mull over.  I plan to spend most of 2010 writing for a few of them, pitching articles to the rest, and getting feedback here. If you want to reach out to me in the mean time leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail at nknightwriter@gmail.com.  See you in the New Year....

Supercore




Go there.  Get the rice balls.  Seriously.

Supercore
305 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211
718.302.1629
http://supercore.tv/

Saturday, December 19, 2009

February 26th, 2010



My uncle left the Navy for New York City around the time I was born. He spent his first summer there with a shipmate who lived in Harlem before settling in with my parents in Brooklyn a few months later.  I've literally been close to the man my whole life.  When I reached my teens he would take me back Uptown every so often.  Especially in the summers, when he would pitch in here and there to help Greg, who would be busy running the popular Entertainers Basketball Classic tournament at Rucker Park.

In some ways, Harlem has represented a personal right of passage, a marker that moved forward with me in age and maturation.  When I went with my uncle I was caught up in the blur of hustle and flash of the personalities that surrounded the EBC and the barbershops, brownstones, and fried fish joints they frequented.  When I got my first job in midtown Manhattan after college, I would be in Harlem for social events organized by local associations like the New York Urban League, of which I was a member. When most of my friends from out of state would come to the city, we'd go out to some hipster spot in lower Manhattan or midtown and would usually end the night crashing somewhere in Harlem - a friend, a relative, someone always had an apartment there. 

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Lessons Learned On The Lecture Circuit


I barely recognized the article I wrote for Hemispheres after it went through the editing process.  This was actually a refreshing change of pace for me.  For some time my pieces were applauded and taken as is without any real constructive criticism.  It tells me Hemispheres has a purposeful editorial staff that puts readers first.  I likes.  Any future contributions would provide the first real writing challenge I've had in some time. Plus, the article still came out interesting in the end. [Read the article at Hemispheres]

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Stuff



If a meaningful life is the most valuable of currencies, then investing in experiences whose memories will last a lifetime will net a greater return than any accumulation of temporary trappings.  A weekend spent moving stuff for other people only reaffirmed my notion that we all had too much of it.  Lately, I've made an honest effort to rid myself of things I don't need or use and spend more of my excess earnings on those experiences (and quality items) - a concert, a road trip, a night out on the town, a wardrobe with legs.  I imagine if George were still around, he'd agree and then some.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Q&A: Los Amigos Invisibles



I've learned about much of the world through people who have been places and done things I have no notion of.  My appetite for the culturally diverse touches upon all aspects of my life, music in particular.  So when I was offered a chance to do a Q&A with Los Amigos Invisibles lead man Jose Luis Pardo (known better in some circles as DJ Afro), I gladly accepted.  As with all good subjects, there is far more to Jose and Los Amigos than can be captured in a short Q&A.

Read the interview at National Geographic.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Stage Two



The Second Stage Theater is neatly wedged between a tony pre-war residential and a corner bodega, one avenue west of the south end of Times Square and a few blocks from midtown Manhattan's world-renowned theater district.  The equally tony pairs of 50-and-over Anglo-Saxons and brown-skinned twenty-somethings waiting outside the building and in the "efficiency-sized" lobby had eschewed tonight's tourist traps for a local favorite. Anna Deavere Smith, penned "the ultimate impressionist" by the New York Times, was performing Let Me Down Easy.  "It's a one woman play recreating interviews on wellness and spirituality," recited the usher.  The monologue successfully personalized the normally polarizing issue of healthcare by re-examining how vastly different real-life interview subjects rode with the peaks and valleys of life, death, success, and vulnerability.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Q&A: Marcellus “Dat Dude” Wiley


I  interviewed NFL retiree and ESPN analyst Marcellus "Dat Dude" Wiley for an article published nearly a year ago.  It was one of my favorites, but the the actual Q&A was too long to make it to print with the profile.....

-------------------------------------------------------

Former NFL Pro Bowler and current ESPN analyst Marcellus “Dat Dude” Wiley explains why transitioning into TV journalism starts with being a good interviewee as a player, becomes opportunity when excelling in the moment, and blossoms when preparation for each broadcast is taken as seriously the practice leading up to game day.

Nokware Knight:

In another interview, you said you ended up on ESPN by happenstance.  You got invited to a couple of shows as a guest and they liked how you appeared on camera, and things went from there.  So what is the difference between you and the average player?  How did you get chosen and why?


Marcellus Wiley:

You’re right.  I did get on the show through everything short of divine intervention because I wasn’t expecting to make this a career move or a career choice, but I was doing the interviews.  I remember a specific interview when it was Halloween and I was in LA.  And as a player, you’re pretty naïve to how things work in the media structure and in the corporate world and how they’re evaluating pretty much everything you do.  Little did I know that that interview would spark a lot of interest in me as a talent, as an NFL analyst because of how I performed in interviews.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Read These, Speak Easy, Live Well



I've recently dwindled the hundred or so books I owned down to about a dozen.  Most of those that remained, particularly my non-fiction titles, were some of the ones I've owned the longest. Three of those non-fiction titles made so much sense, were so clear in their directions, simple in their message, entertaining, and were so relevant to my everyday life that I now consider them a mandatory once-a-year read.

Timothy Ferisses' 4-Hour Work Week, William Zinsser's On Writing Well (widely considered a classic), and Suzanne Bates' Speak Like a CEO all center around three premises:  1) Life is priority, 2) Communication is key, and 3) Direction is necessary.

They have been particularly important for me, a full-time businessman, freelance writer, and culture and music enthusiast who can't seem to find enough time in the day for much else.  But they are very much applicable to anyone who wants to make something of themselves and actually have a life at the same time.  Speak Like A CEO considers the importance of the words you say, On Writing Well will help you sound better on paper or in person, and the 4-Hour Workweek will help you reprioritize your own life and interests, so that you have more to speak of than what you do for a living.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

She Loves You For Your Parents













In discussing how she and her current boyfriend met, an acquaintence let me on to what I thought was an unusual but sensible gauge for whether the man she was dating was for her: his parents. Her biggest concern wasn't whether she liked her beau's folks or vice versa. Since she was looking for a committed relationship herself, she wanted to get an idea of what kind of message was portrayed about love and marriage to her boyfriend through the first example of a relationship he ever knew (and likely the only one he's seen up so close for so long). Did they stay together from his birth until now, or go through some form of separation or divorce? She had come to the conclusion that men raised by parents who stick it out in the long term consider marriage permanent and take relationships more seriously than those whose parents have parted ways, as the children of divorcees always "see a way out," as she puts it.

When I thought it over I had to agree. Of the five divorced couples I know, at least four included a husband or wife who were raised by parents who were divorced, married, separated, or had children with a different mother or father before them. But nearly all the people I knew whose parents never had a real relationship to begin with spent a lot of time in long-term monogamous relationships. I neither had the time nor energy to explore whether this "trend" has any relevance beyond my inner circle. But it has made me wonder how many women I've gained or lost due to what they saw in my own parents, and consider the importance of getting to know my significant other's old folks for reasons more substantial than my own self-security.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The New Men's Magazine

The alternative men's magazine market has always seemed a fickle one. In years past most hung in the shadows of the big G & E before passing into obscurity . But a handful of books have sprung from the ashes of popular second tier titles like Men's Vogue and King, providing less frequent, more focused content to smaller, enthusiastic audiences - communities that embrace the brand and the intent behind it. That approach, it seems, are where leaders of the new generation of men's mags are finding the most success.


Fantastic Man: A pair of editorial veterans produce a serious style mag for the 30-something year-old who believes a man's wardrobe is built character first. [Interview]

Jacques: Danielle Luft's unadulterated take on culture, society, and American curves - minus the metorsexual shopping catalogues. [The Malcom]

Krave: Jet-sized service mag brings fashion, grooming, health, and lifestyle tidbits to the multicultural male. [Clutch, Monarch]

Manzine: A black and white collection of essay-style articles that lives in the real world and refuses to take itself too seriously. [Mag Culture, Post Advertising]

Paradis: For the middle-aged arts & culture buff whose personal sexy has matured into something more meaningful. [The Fashion Spot]

The Rake: Christian Barker's bling-lite take on timeless style and "real" luxury tastes like old money shaken, not stirred. [Men's Flair, A Continuous Lean, Permanent Style]

Friday, November 13, 2009

Blue Steel




Crash Test Dummies: Feeling the vibe of the song and video for Bot'ox's "Blue Steel." Also feeling like Toyota might owe them a check. [The Fader]

"Krazy": Gucci Mane, The Game, Timbaland collaboration. [Fader] 

A Guide To My Fantasy: I want to eventually spend an entire year traveling, writing, and listening to great music. Museyon gives me a head start and Luxagraf tells me how to get started. [Afar, Luxagraf].

Why Your Best Matters: "What you wear makes a difference in how you influence the world." [Man Over Board].

Men & Media, New Metro, Sex On The Daily












The Man You Want In Your Corner: Interview with Edward W. Hayes. [Corporate Takeover] 

Day and Night: A couple commits to getting it in for 101 days straight, no excuses. [Experience Life] 

The Un-Metro Sexual: Yes, real men wear clothes that fit. Cremes and $200 shoes? Not so much. [The Fashion Beat] 

The Magazine Whisperer:  The man King, Men's Vogue, and Portfolio should have hired. [Daily Beast] 

Six-Figure Blogger: In Tom Foremski's world, the average professional blogger make $90 - $120k per year. [Payscale.com]

Creative Recreation

I started taking writing and music seriously in fourth and fifth grade, through my own interest and encouragement from my teachers. The elementary school's orchestra conductor complimented me on my "good ear" (something I heard from junior high, high school, and through college) and my fifth grade teacher encouraged me to nurture what she saw as an innate talent for writing after I handed in, out of all things, a paper on mongooses.

I continued playing in academic orchestra through my sophomore year of college (became too expensive when I transferred to a school that would not provide the instrument) and wrote at my own leisure on the side, taking some advanced language arts courses in high school, beginning school as a philosophy and journalism major before changing to a business major when transferring schools, all the while peppering accounting and economics curriculum with the odd course in creative fiction and journalism.

After college I combined my passions, writing about music, which eventually led to writing about business, a much more lucrative side-gig that translated what I lived 9-5 Monday through Friday. I eventually diversified, writing culture, lifestyle, and music articles that paid decent enough. Now that I'm a place where I know how to write well enough about the subject at hand to put a little extra something in my pockets (crossing that $1/word barrier feels great!), I've been kind of yearning to get back writing for writing sakes. So I've been looking through stacks of literary journals to find where I can try my hand with the poetry, essays, and memoirs I left behind years ago.

I was browsing through McSweeny's website and clicked on a link titled A Converge of Convergences: Contest, thinking I could brush up on some decent prose and fiction. The contest instead pitted abstract pairings of photos, paintings, cartoons, and other visuals against one another, a medium I realized I never appreciated as much as I should have. My favorites might be the The 19th Century Roots of Rosie Jetson and Shinto Ghraib.

George Madoffton

Submitted by Errol Morris*
- - - -


Barack O'Zimmerman

Submitted by Leon Hilton**

- - - -


Guston's Web

Submitted by Chris Ware

- - - -



See all the contest entries here.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Fader Roundup

Fader has been my favorite music mag for years now. It has great variety and scope in genre and style. I always find something that's brand new to me. I found a couple of tunes/videos on the music blog that caught my attention. If you don't have time to check them all out, make sure you watch the pianists duel it out on "Gonzales vs. Andrew WK" and the kids dancing on the "Block Parties" video.

FYI: Little Dragon is my favorite band out right now.
Disclaimer: The Ray Rich video is very PG-13. Not for the kiddies.


Video: Gonzales vs Andrew WK




Click here to see full blog.


Little Dragon, “Blinking Pigs” MP3




Click here for audio clip.


Ray Rich, “Know She Cold” MP3




Click here for full blog.



Video Premiere: Vitalic, “Poison Lips”



Click here for full blog.


Video: Slyde, “Block Parties”



Click here for full blog post.

Lawrence Weschler on Engaging Non-Fiction Writing

Interview with New Yorker writer Lawrence Weschler on "literary journalism," . Or, as Weschler puts it, "non-fiction in which the writing matters."




My favorite quotes from the interview:

On engaging writing: "How does narrative arrive out of reportage?"

Of a writer: "She never uses the word 'I' once, but she has a voice."

Of an editor: "He didn't hire reporters, he hired voices. He said that you could always teach a voice to report. It's more difficult to teach a reporter to have a voice."

On blogs: "Often, all that they're offering is opinion. Here we're talking about reportage. You actually go out in the world. This is expensive and you're not going to get it for free."

On the dying art of long-form reportage: "The hope is that [the next generation of writers] will take over and remind the world why it's so important."

On myth of absolute objectivity: "They are designed to fetishize the idea that they are the Voice of God, and they are not. One of the things that's wonderful about a voice is that it addresses you personally in the awkwardness of your personal life."

Jay Smooth Speaks

I came across Jay Smooth's video-blog site, Ill Doctrine, while doing some research for an article. It is now another one of my new favorite sites. The following clips cover news that's a little dated, but the messages are timeless.

On Michael Steele At Howard University


Perez Hilton and Ms. California


Mike Jones and Gold Chains


Operation Ignore Charles Hamilton

Sunday, October 4, 2009

How to Spot a Hipster

Bill Wasik of Harper's discusses how globalization and the web's speedy distribution of novelty niches and ideas makes cultural groups all the more ubiquitous.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Esquire's Sexiest Question Mark Alive

Esquire's sexiest woman alive is Kate Beckinsale. Who? Should I be ashamed that I'm only vaguely familiar with who she is?



Click here for link to video.
Click here for photos and full article

Esquire UK and The Men's Lifestyle Service Model

Men's Health became the leading men's magazine in the United States a few years ago, eclipsing the likes of GQ and Playboy in circulation, for one reason. It maintained a service-based model as it's editorial strategy, providing readers with actionable information they could go out in the world and use to their benefit.

It seems that other men's publications have caught on. Esquire in particular has bought into the notion that if a magazine provide information readers can immediately apply to their everyday lives, that those readers may eventually consider that information a necessity. And that makes for more loyal and engaged readers.

More than in the past, the US version increasingly features articles that give men step-by-step instructions on how to shave, kiss, speak, take vacations, etc.; essentially a style version of Men's Health. The October 2009 issue of Esquire's UK edition took it one step further, filling the entire issue with articles on how to live a more stylish life.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Paradis Magazine and Reggae Legend Lee "Scratch" Perry

The internet has generally made porn a commodity. That has arguably done wonders for journalism, as established mags like Playboy and Penthouse have been forced to focus (or in the case of Playboy, refocus) on quality content. Jacques and Paradis, two erotic men's magazine upstarts, lead a trend towards "high-end smut" that emphasizes art and editorial, replacing a shock factor that has hardly shocked much of anyone for some years now.

The final product is visually stunning. The quality of the editorial for both magazines varies. Jacques sells itself as providing a "contemporary audience... [of] grown-ups with an alternative to the vapid men's magazines of today." The magazine's subject lives up to that promise, but often appears youthful and largely unexamined in it's approach. Still, it's truly alternative content and potential alone makes the magazine worth skimming through.

Paradis, published twice a year in Paris (in French and English), is a more upmarket publication than its American counterpart. The latest issue is more than 400 pages long, with intricate photo shoots, high-end editorial concepts, and advertisements from the biggest names in luxury goods. The articles really do cater to an older, educated, artsy, and culturally aware audience in a way that can sometimes come across as snooty. In as much, some of the one page commentaries articles read like dramatic attempts to make something out of nothing through amorphous themes like love and death. But the articles that focus on more tangible people, places, things, and themes are made of solid stuff. Those feature articles and interviews explore subjects from all angles in away that make authentic and interesting pieces out of what might otherwise come across as mundane or pretentious.

The most interesting article, for me, was a profile of Lee "Scratch" Perry, a Jamaican reggae artist who was big in the Bob Marley's heyday and has continued to make contributions to the genre up until today. It's amazing how much the author captures in six pages until you realize that he spent an entire year with Perry before he wrote the story.

Now that's dedication to your craft.

Big Think On Media

Big Think might be my new favorite website. It catalogues video clips of practiced experts giving their opinions on topics they are well versed in. Meaning credible insight from people who know what they are talking about, providing the audience with truly insightful and actionable information.

As a lover of all things media and the written word I, of course, gravitated towards videos featuring journalists, web entrepreneurs, novelists, media industry tycoons, and the like. Three, in particular, stood out.



Investigative Journalism In The New Media Landscape

Jeffrey Toobin On Writing For The New Yorker

How The Tape Recorder Killed Journalism