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. []

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*
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Barack O'Zimmerman

Submitted by Leon Hilton**

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Guston's Web

Submitted by Chris Ware

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See all the contest entries here.