Plot twist

March 19th, 2019 by harold

It does not happen.

It was interesting to read Nicole’s take on family and I guess adoption is really different for a woman. Having the physical possibility to host Life. It shifts how you envision family. Believing in God’s will also add a twist.

As a young man, black, atheist and adopted, I am not in this situation. I have to build and believe in everything I build.

I need a breather.

It was diffrnt 4 me

March 12th, 2019 by harold

The strange thing was that, inside, I always felt I was the same as everyone around me. I am just like you, I thought when kids squinted at me in mockery of my own eyes; why can’t you see that? When I was young I certainly felt more like a white girl than an Asian one, and sometimes it was shocking to catch a glimpse of my face in the mirror and be forced to catalog the hated differences.

Nicole Chung, All You Can Ever Know.

Nicole was adopted and I’m reading her memoir. This is so wild to me.

I never felt like wanting to be white like everyone around me. Never. My first hero or at least the first that I remember was Space Sheriff Gavan, an Asian hero in an Asian world.

So there I was, a black kid in a white village, adulating an Asian fictional character. I guess the idea of conformation, to be like everyone around simply didn’t exist in my mind: there are human beings. We have different shapes. The end. It seemed like the purest truth.

This idea fit me, singled out as I was. It was reasonable, stuck in reality and allowed myself to exist without thinking that something was wrong with me. I’ll take that.

What hurts reading that part is that Nicole was so not used to diversity that she couldn’t do anything but envy her white friends. There was immediately a hierarchy to her. It seems so toxic. It scares me to read the rest and her interactions with black folks, if that happens at some point.

People will only be people someday

March 10th, 2019 by harold

On MJ and politics.

But perhaps Michael Jordan was different. He was representative of a different generation of young blacks in America, for whom many doors once closed, not only educationally but commercially and socially, were now opened, and he as much as anyone had in his way helped open some of them. To the degree that he was capable of making a statement about the black condition, it was not so much with his words but with his deeds, the way he played in big games under unrelenting pressure, the way he comported himself on and off court in front of the most intrusive media scrutiny in modern history, and finally how shrewd a businessman he had become. It was, in his case, as if some things did not need to be spoken because they had been done.

Jordan has been raised in a family where there were powerful internal codes, but they were middle-class codes, about how to comport yourself, how to do well and become a success in school and business, not about manifesting any political or social grievance. If anything, the teachings in the Jordan family had been quite the reverse. He and his siblings were taught about the greater possibilities that awaited them if they worked hard, rather than about the historic prejudices that had damaged people in the past; he was taught that it was important and natural to have friends on both sides of the racial line and that was what he had always done. When this reporter once mentioned to Deloris Jordan, his mother, about how remarkable Michael’s climb was for a young black athlete in becoming the best-known and best-paid commercial spokesman in the world, her immediate reaction was to say that there was too much being made of the black-white thing and that was one of the things wrong with the country. Everyone ought to remember, she said, that people were just people.

From Playing for Keeps, still an outstanding book.

It’s… Complicated. To me, thinking that things are somehow static –people are just people- highlights a profound lack of awareness about dynamics. Human societies are rivers, they flow. They change. They move the past, the present and the future at the same time, like a boulder at the bottom of a creek.

Race relationships in a sports and NBA world that needed black bodies so bad were, of course, manageable. But outside sports and rare corporate unicorns like MJ, it was bad. It’s always been bad. The 80s were catastrophic for black America. The 90s were better, relative to the awful previous decade and the previous one (the 70s hadn’t been so great for black folks either).

On my side, in Europe within my white world it was fine. Inside a bubble pretty similar to Jordan’s family values. But I could sense from a few bullies at school or Rodney King on TV, that something was lingering, hard. That race relationships were not that great. There was tension, always some, even in the most relaxed situations. I didn’t forget. I didn’t want to put some rose-colored glasses to avoid it. I didn’t seek for outrage either. It was just there, following me. I kind of hoped that it would die down even though I knew it would not.

Fast forward today. Shit is realer than ever. I don’t know how many black bodies died for no reason, on my laptop in the past five years but it’s a lot. Kap, who simply kneeled. Ferguson activists dying left and right in super weird circumstances. My own field, with a staggering less than 2% of black folks in a 40 year old business. My black friends, older, telling me about the shit they’re going through. They don’t complain. They tell me about it at some point because they need to. Dealing with this while displaying a “people are just people” is some heavy burden that other people don’t know. Even Michael Jordan, probably completely sick of the dissonance in his soul, spoke up three years ago.

People will only be just people the day we square up and fix that absurd, relentless and highly destructive wealth inequality that shouldn’t exist in such prosperous times we’re living in.

Dial it Down

March 10th, 2019 by harold

I just finished reading Playing for Keeps by David Halberstam, which is the best book on the rise of the NBA and its best player ever, myself. I mean, Michael Jordan.

Coincidently, I read this New Yorker article on the NBA and its players being anxious. Consider this:

1978-79 total NBA salary: $40 million.

1984-85 total NBA salary: $242 million.

2018-19 total NBA salary: $3+ billion.

Two things are going on at the same time and going in different directions. First, basketball is a team sport and you do not win without a team, whoever you are. David’s book is so beautiful and captivating because it shows Michael’s other worldly power but that also, he wouldn’t have done it without a team (players, coaches).

Second, the power relationship between players and owners. True, players used to be treated like cows. And because of the racial thing, owners mostly being white and players mostly being black, that would always leave a bad taste in the mouths of NBA players. So players started to demand extremely good contracts. After all, they are the actors that bring NBC and ESPN billions.

To put it in perspective, Scottie Pippen, one of the best player to ever play the game, had 5 titles under its belt and was paid less in 1998, for his sixth title, than rookies today. That’s how much money players make these days.

And yet, they’re anxious. And yet, they’re unhappy. It’s like they got everything they wanted and they’re not happy about it. They don’t even need to win to be popular. They can even say “playoff mode activated”, while opening the next game with 4 missed free throws with the certitude that the team will not make the playoffs. No one is mad. It’s all good.

So, three words: dial it down. Get those salaries back to decency. Teach those young players the basics and fundamentals like court vision, how to shoot (Fultz makes $5M this year and I shoot the ball better that he is) and having some kind of relationship that goes further than sitting next to their teammates while they’re on their damn phones.

Teams who sport big names have become boring as hell. It’s no surprise the Warriors seem so out of reach with their stars who play together and act as a full team. I know, it might be just an illusion. But you need that illusion to win. And you need to win to demand a high salary.

Infinity stairs

March 6th, 2019 by harold

Bonaly’s comments call to mind the “twice as good” narrative, in which black people aspiring to white-dominated fields have to continually exceed expectations to be as successful as their white peers.

The Rebellious, Back-Flipping Black Figure Skater Who Changed the Sport Forever.

Our crew had Jews, Asians, women (still a rarity in the kitchen), and me, a black Swede. Maybe he figured that if we’d made it that far without the advantage of being in the majority, there was a chance we had both resilience and ambition, both of which he demanded.

Yes, Chef a memoir.

It seems pretty reasonable and easy to get around the idea that minorities who stick to something for years or decades are more than probably strong, dedicated folks.

But man, it’s hard to convince people.

I had an onsite interview not so long ago. Everything looking good. It goes well. They need someone 12 days later. I thank them. Check in 10 days later. They ghost me the whole time. The end.

It’s so hard on the mind, I’m not going to lie.

Office Cult

March 3rd, 2019 by harold

This was such a great read. The oral story of Office Space.

I watched this movie the first time on a lazy Sunday in my first year living in the US sometime in 2010. I thought it was brilliant and funny as hell.

It’s interesting to see how 1999-2000 were a mess to promote anything: so much was happening and the Millennium veneer was all over our eyes. We couldn’t see shit and certainly not a comedy about offices.

In the end it still found its audience. The point is: make something you believe in. Always.

Lefty NBA

February 27th, 2019 by harold

Speaking of lefties, let’s look at how the NBA is being taken over by us.

First you obviously have James Harden. Regardless of his ways, the man averaged 43 pts a game in January. That is completely absurd. He can score at will outside and can pass extremely well. True, his step back is sometimes a full-on travel but when he’s on, there’s not much you can do to stop him.

Isaiah Thomas is back! IT will always be special and my dude. He’s playing real basketball –no size cheat- and what a more than excellent shooter. His season at the Celtics is one of the highest %FG ever recorded.

The D’, D’angelo Russell and De’Aaron Fox. I love those two so much. Kings and Nets are the funniest teams to watch right now, and those two lead their respective squad with what I call the Left Hand of Death: when they’re about to shoot, it’s going in. D’angelo has one of the most beautiful arc I’ve ever seen and De’Aaron also has an effortless-looking jumpshot that is money. I love them. Shoutout to Marvin Bagley III who’s been torching teams recently.

Mike Conley is a super dope lefty too and he’s hard to spot because he plays so much with his right hand. He works that aspect so hard, it takes a few games to realize he’s left-handed. Julius Randle is a fantastic power forward that the Lakers shipped to New Orleans because well let’s not talk about the Lakers front office. When he drives to the basket on the left, that’s going to be 2 points my man.

Luke Kennard is really good. Domantas Sabonis is a beast for the Pacers, a Swiss army knife who has a huge impact when on the floor.

Left-handed brothers, I root for you.


February 27th, 2019 by harold

You right-handed people have no clue what that name really means.

After my adoption and probably one year of school or more, I needed left-handed scissors badly. I didn’t even know they existed. I thought I would get a black, squeaky, maybe rusty old lefty scissors. But instead mom came back with the Rolls Royce of scissors: Fiskars.

It had the orange handle. Stainless steel blades. Orange sheath with built-in sharpener. The tool looked like a Transformer. All of sudden it’s a PLEASURE to cut through sheets of paper. It’s fluid. It’s gliding. I’m full of joy.

At school no one could steal my left-handed scissor, there was no point to it besides hurting your hand. My parents were always telling me to be very careful with them because yeah, those were, are, sharper than Trunk’s sword.

Then the brand disappeared from my life and reappeared a few months ago. Someone gave me a Fiskars cutter. Still that beautiful design and orange color. It is so satisfying to create shapes with it. So I thought, hey what up Fiskars? Turns out, Fiskars is one of the oldest business in the world! It started in 1649. They have celebrated a 365th anniversary in 2014. 365 years old business.

Design, check. Technology, check. Inclusivity, check. Sustainable business, check.

I was meant to use that brand. Now onward to find a left-handed orange pair of scissors because those are red now. And I want the Fiskars Orange.

Drama free mind (not really)

February 26th, 2019 by harold

I have little interest for drama.

Orphan/transracial adopted/immigrant/black man trying to sustain his present and future. It’s a lot of drama in a million ways. A massive pile of knots to deal with. I’ve been busy.

Drama drives everything though: media, politics, constantly. Gossip, thus social interactions. Twitter. Traffic jam. People, I noticed, hate drama and really look for it as well. I don’t, really. I have enough. Shit bores me real quick.

I can sit there, chilling and it’s still super dramatic in my head. I seek for solace quite often. A sunny spot on a curb. A calm afternoon on my couch, reading. Playing music, bass or keys, is so soothing. The beauty of stillness never stops to make me smile. I can’t wait to go back to the desert to do nothing.

So when there’s drama in front of me, I don’t really believe in it. I acknowledge it and try to move on, immediately. If said drama can be dissected to look like a decent situation that can be solved, fine. Otherwise, I have other places to be. Drama for drama feels like a turnstile. I go through it.

Time is the only real currency. I try not to waste it too much.

Uncharted thoughts

February 22nd, 2019 by harold

How being isolated like I am manifests itself? I have a good example. The “she/he looks like [her/him]” that we perpetually go for because the brain is a pattern-recognizing machine.

You probably have no idea how often that situation unfolds because it happens all the time and it’s such a given. Everyone looks like someone they know or knew.

Well this pattern doesn’t exist in my case. I’ve never looked like anyone around me and no one around has ever looked like me. Or moved like me or ate like me etc. You get the point.

It’s not a problem per se. But physical connection ties one to something bigger. A family. It’s everywhere in real life, stories, books, movies. It’s core to human societies. It creates a “Us”. You just need one other person to create a “Us”. I don’t have one.

Y’all mofos are going to act like “it doesn’t matter, you can always recreate” but I know it does matter. Especially in tough times, which are here. I wish it didn’t matter. Trust me.

Looking alike is almost social currency.

I have a family. But I’m broke as hell.