Alcohol

January 24th, 2020 by harold

I think I was tipsy twice in 2019 and that was it. I basically didn’t drink last year. A first in my adult life.

It’s something that happened just like that, I didn’t call it. Being overworked has perks I guess.

Anyway the last time I did get a bit inebriated, I was noticing something that I had completely forgotten about drinking: it’s how much you want to see shit go down. To go to eleven. You want that nasty drama.

It doesn’t matter what. An argument? You want the other to be mean as hell in the response. Sound? LOUDER. Sports? I want some BLOOD on this field. Someone falls, you kind of hope that person to hit it hard or harder. You want a chain of bad stuff to happen. Being part of it or not doesn’t really matter. It needs to go down. When drunk there’s a huge high from witnessing chaos. It’s just there and it’s pretty universal.

But you have to stop drinking, let your body clean itself out from any trace of alcohol  to realize it. It takes months. In our drinking societies, most people have forgotten. Forever.

Which leads me to television. TV analyses its customers and they realized that most people have drinks at night. Especially the increasingly single, adult population from the past twenty years, right? A glass of wine (it’s never just one, as we all know) in front of the TV has become standard. Which means TV executives can go ahead with the sociopaths, zombies and other “whatever it takes” type of shows where, as you are under influence, will be entertained. You don’t drink and all of those shows look quite harsh if not psychopathic. You do drink and you’re amused: this person had to die, too bad! This one will go on a revenge tour and I’m all for IT.

The interaction between what we do and consumer offering. It fascinates me.

The Last Black Man in San Francisco

January 1st, 2020 by harold

(That previous post took me months to write, probably the hardest one to publish)

Anyway, I really enjoyed that movie. Shout out to my man Daewon for the cameo.

Housing is everything. I keep going back to this idea. Whatever kind of people are around you, if you have shelter you can help yourself out. If you don’t, you lose your mind.

The story of a skateboarding black man who’s determined to own his house is something I can relate to. I want this so much. Build what I’m imagining and tracing on my computer.

Once that’s done, I just want to produce music and sound without caring about anything. Collect CDs, finally buying the HD version after years of not-so-great mp3 files. And live simply, ready to sit, relax, and watch another sunset. ‘Nother one. Bliss.

Did it

December 30th, 2019 by harold

For the first time in my life, I just lived a full year without a single white person around me.

For the first time in my life, I didn’t share any kind of personal space with a white person. First time, ever.

It’s been very easy to deal with. You could say that I Got Out. And no, I haven’t seen the movie, that shit looked good and far too close to my life. Ex-life.

I didn’t plan all this at all, it just happened. The racial climate in this country and this world just kind of nudged me into this situation.

An insane storm of powerful things have been happening to me. There are many, many things to ponder on.

For instance I’ve always wondered why I never was attracted to D&D, a giant pillar in the world of games.

It’s because I’d been performing my whole life without realizing it. It felt vain to act on another layer. I just didn’t know why I felt like not wanting *at all* to pretend to be a paladin or a rogue. It’s clear as hell now.

It goes deep. My absurd resilience and discipline come from living in a world 99.9% white for a very long time. A world that corrodes and doesn’t care about me, ultimately. My tech career is filled with terrible stories. After decades through a dozen game companies, I have yet to work directly with someone looking like me. My current day job happened because a black woman trusted me. I exceeded all her expectations. It’s been wonderful, except for the reality of getting paid what a black man in America is getting paid. Resilience, blending with self-care when necessary. Black poverty, black upper middle class, white elitism. I’m visiting them everyday. So many layers. Constant code-switching. Learning. Paying attention. Deciphering. My roots running in opposite directions with no one really grasping the entirety of who I am. There’s no time to explain.

Black love —brotherhood, sisterhood— showed up. It makes me feel like I didn’t know that love could be so real. So real and smiling. So instant. It’s prodigious. You have no idea.

It’s very painful yet I’m blossoming. No time to play the “what if” in my head. I already know it’d be different.

This new paradigm makes me a lot more sensitive about gentrification. Not only I see it happening with tremendous detail by biking every day on the same streets for years, but because of my personal story, it feels like… A hunt. Can white people just relax and stop obsessing about growth, I fucking wish.

I’m grateful to know good white people though. They helped me out. You guys are far too rare, that’s for sure.

It’s also not the same. I don’t overcompensate either. I know bad people are everywhere. But black life is enveloping me like a thick bath robe after a burning hot shower following a rough day and it feels so good.

It feels so good.

On masculinity

December 23rd, 2019 by harold

Great article at The Atlantic on the subject.

What the longtime sportswriter Robert Lipsyte calls “jock culture” (or what the boys I talked with more often referred to as “bro culture”) is the dark underbelly of male-dominated enclaves, whether or not they formally involve athletics: all-boys’ schools, fraternity houses, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, Hollywood, the military. Even as such groups promote bonding, even as they preach honor, pride, and integrity, they tend to condition young men to treat anyone who is not “on the team” as the enemy

That thing is so universal and it always bothered me because it’s bizarre. Why the animosity? Why groups of dudes always end up hating others so much, on sight? I don’t know but this is why I’ve never been in bigger groups than two or three bros. That’s the limit. Bigger and things become wild and stupid.

I didn’t spend much time in locker rooms when I was younger. A few years while playing basketball and I didn’t like that stuff. I was in and out, bored at the bravado. Walking back home musty, it didn’t matter.

That’s the thing: growing up, it wasn’t much about validation from others. It was more like I do my thing and if you don’t like it, fuck all of y’all. The concept of masculinity was dead. Prince, Michael Jackson and others had destroyed it.

There was no bragging, just doing. I remember casually telling my best friend that I had done it. Then we’d hung out listening to some music while I explained how it had happened and so forth. Just a conversation. Bragging was/is weak. It means you can’t control yourself, from staying humble. Bragging triggers jealousy and a whole lot of bad shit usually spawns from that. Humility is great. One might even say that bitches love humility. I didn’t write that. Back to the article:

Then she took off her pants. “And that,” he said, “was the first time I ever saw a vagina. I did not know what to do with it.”

Eat it, you dumb fuck. Give, stupid. Because if you do and try your best, she’ll do the same with you. You have the internet in your pocket, thousands of pages of women talking about what they want and like with intimacy and you don’t even pay attention. You’re a bum with no curiosity nor focus whatsoever.

I feel like sex needs to happen early, when hormones are starting to make you lose your mind. Nobody’s fast, Nature tells you you want it. Do it —as clean and soft as possible, no alcohol, no pressure— and move on. Then you can focus on what’s next in your life. Sex isn’t about power and tearing her shit up. It’s teamwork and smiles, feeling that skin. Smelling. You shouldn’t think about anything.

Links

December 12th, 2019 by harold

So much work I can’t even.

52 things I learned in 2019. Number 3:

Emojis are starting to appear in evidence in court cases, and lawyers are worried: “When emoji symbols are strung together, we don’t have a reliable way of interpreting their meaning.”

Why the fuck do you think hieroglyphs never came back? Symbols are vague and are not good at stating things. Another example: Uber. They paid a graphic designer to design a logo that nobody gave a shit about. They reversed to plain old letters and a “Uber” sign in 2018 because people can read. Reading is potent.

Twitter really is hypnotoad. And so are symbols and icons.

Links are disappearing and it’s all your fault.

An Antidote to Dissatisfaction. I get what this video is saying and I’m grateful most of the time which does the things the video says (feeling good about yourself, not caving to depression). But it’s still some bullshit. The dire pace of incremental progress is fucking with me. Am I grateful that change is that slow? Fuck no. Am I grateful to the state of the world where money is so central to personal development, when I know and understand that money’s made out of thin air and not fairly shared? Fuck to the no.

I’m reading Paul Beatty’s The Sellout and it’s hilariously brilliant. Loving it. It needs to be an animated movie like Mind Game for which I would direct the sound. It would be the best thing ever made by two black men since 2 Nigs United 4 West Compton.

AYYYEE

November 28th, 2019 by harold

That’s what you hear when the Spurs are in the paint. DeMar, Lamarcus, Rudy, they’re all yelling the same thing while struggling to score.

The problem is on defense though. A lack of effort and mostly, anticipation. That’s where Kawhi is so, so good. He anticipates two turns ahead of everyone in most cases.

The Spurs are making players better. LMA out of Portland was a tank, only posting up and shooting 2s. Now he runs back and forth, gets alley oops, shoots 3s. DeMar in his first season immediately got his career-high assists per game and he is working on his defense more. He’s not very good at it but he’s got better.

There’s definitely something about shooting/defending 3s that is killing them. The league really is about shooting those now. Last night they were not falling for the Spurs. It happens. They still need much better defense.

Maybe moral is low after a string of losses this past month. KEEP GOING

The Stahl House

November 20th, 2019 by harold

Why yes, I enjoyed this iconic architectural masterpiece for a few hours last week.


When that day off hits you in the neck

It was exactly how I thought it would be: pretty small yet spacious. Loved it. Here’s the short version of the history of this house:

Clarence “Buck” Stahl had the original idea for the home. After purchasing the lot on which it sits for $13,000 in 1954, he began, along with his wife, Carlotta, to search for the perfect architect to realize his vision. More than one architect the Stahls met with insisted their dream could not be executed. Pierre Koenig disagreed. The young, energetic architect took on the project in 1959.

Today, the home is known as Case Study House #22. That’s because it became the 22nd of 27 homes to be a part of Arts & Architecture’s famous Case Study series, which commissioned emerging modernist architecture in Southern California. Homes designed by Raphael Soriano, Charles Eames, Craig Ellwood, Richard Neutra, and Eero Saarinen were also part of the project, but the Stahl House has become the most recognizable of the Case Study houses. It embodied the home of the future.

LA Mag

It was an everyday people’s house is what is so interesting here. Buck Stahl had a very weird (for his time) career. He moved to LA to become an actor, found the lot almost randomly, worked on it for three years and half to make it better (by adding concrete he would scavenge around Los Angeles because the man was broke) while paying back the loan and living modestly somewhere. He was in his forties, had a dream house and worked to make it happen.

He built a model, showed it to architects. Most thought he and his wife were nuts. Pierre Koenig accepted the challenge though. Here comes the most beautiful and ironic part of the story of this house. To finance the building, the couple had to take a loan. No bank wanted to be part of a project like this. Too risky. Pierre used his connections and found a bank to loan money. A black-owned bank.

In short: a white couple built a modern, iconic house in a segregated area (the lot was not to be sold to anyone not Caucasian), thanks to LA’s black capital. THIS SHIT RIGHT HERE BRO THIS SHIT RIGHT HERE

Curbed (excellent article about the house, you should read it)

I didn’t know that when I visited the place. I learned that sitting in the living room, as the only black person in the room too. I mental five’d my ass off, giggling.

Back to the everyday people thingy: the Stahl family is a simple, humble family. You would think that they are all about tuxedos and martinis, they are not. Like the very nice tour guide Andrew said, they were more about “beer cooler and kids jumping in the pool from the roof” type of folks, which you know, feels right. And yet out of character when you look at Julius Shulman’s outstanding and timeless pictures.


This is the most widely published architectural picture in the world

Now my review of the house. The house itself, the volumes, the amenities, size, furniture, floor to ceiling windows… It’s pretty much perfect. I love how they lowered the ceiling in the kitchen while providing non-direct light to the islands. The most striking effect is how the house itself disappears: you live in a beautiful space and don’t really feel like in a box like we feel like in traditional houses. It’s soothing and elegant. I can’t get enough of that modern feeling. That horizontal, wide, cinematographic, no limit vibe.

On the other hand well, building on top of a hill is, I think, not that great. Yes, you have an absurd 270° view of Los Angeles. You also get all the wind, all the cold, all the sun, all the time. That can be harsh sometimes. And it’s of course, pretty cumbersome to drive all the way up there. I can imagine that living up there and commuting can be alienating and isolating.

Having said that, once you sit down next to the pool, looking over the sun going down while the city turns into black and lights, the hum slowly dying down… It’s wonderful and calming like no other places I’ve been to.

Thank you SO much dear Stahl family for letting strangers in instead of selling the place for dozens of millions of dollars. It’s very much appreciated and I look forward to do the same once my custom-made house is built and attracting peasants I mean, everyday people.

Unraveling Race

November 12th, 2019 by harold

Unraveling Race
Thomas Chatterton Williams wants to discard traditional racial categories.

It’s an interesting point of view. I think it lacks a connection to the real, dirty world of everyday reality.

Williams understands that his path is not necessarily for everyone. “I am not so ingenuous as to think everyone can want to reconceive themselves,” he writes. “But I do believe the more people of good will—white, black, and everything in between—try, the more the rigidity of our collective faith in race will necessarily soften.”

People mostly just want to have decent, happy lives. Race —obviously as a social construct and cultural angle— will determine a lot of outcome, out of the womb.

Of course you might want to identify with the powerful ones. Which are not black (not that we can’t be powerful but with an average wealth ten to a hundred times smaller, obviously, it’s very much harder).

And your face will determine a lot, as we all know. If you look like a negro, even if your skin is #FFFFFF you won’t be treated the same in western society. This intellectualism about what you call yourself and what you identify with, becomes pointless in the day-to-day life. It’s all about what opportunities are more or less available and how it’s consistently worse for black people, every, single, time. No matter what. If you can un-identify with blackness so that you can have a decent life, considering the receipts of the past 60 years, you might want to do it. It makes sense. Weak, but it makes sense.

As a black man I am not as free to choose as I want to be. In our society that’s more of a feature than a bug. I don’t have a problem identifying as black while doing black things like designing sound, a future home, reading a lot about everything, being extremely proficient with a computer and knowing its history as well as 90s rock or 80s funk etc.

The day wealth is completely, evenly redistributed, black people will be able to not care about race at all.

Which we didn’t obsess with in the first place, to be clear.

Bicycle LA

November 10th, 2019 by harold

‘been biking LA for ten years.

You bike without a helmet, isn’t that very dangerous?

AR-15s. Those are dangerous. Those will pulverize your body in the distance through a concrete wall, do you understand? Navy Seals training is dangerous. Landing a switch 3 flip to switch crooked grind on a handrail is some dangerous shit.

Biking is way softer than that. Most people on earth ride bicycles without a helmet, sometimes drunk while wearing flip flops. And for those who do wear a helmet here in California, well some are the wildest riders I’ve ever seen, running red lights as if they were driving a Hummer. You might have a helmet but you’re still a bunch of sticks on wheels, bro.

How do you deal with traffic, potholes etc?

You just do, memorizing them. My training comes from playing shoot’em ups when I was growing up. I’ve become pretty good at aiming, avoiding, “reading” movement and now have an acute sense of anticipation. It’s crucial. And yes, you need to know how to ride while looking behind you on both sides. It takes a little while to get good safety habits for rush hour time.

It’s also taxing. More than the physical effort, paying attention to the environment at all times is the hardest part of biking daily I think. You can (but shouldn’t) chill in your car. You can but also cannot on a bike.

Still biking the same bike?

Yup, ten years on my 1974 red Schwinn bought off Craigslist in 2009. Extremely sturdy. Built-in kickstand. Single speed. Sometimes I wish I had two that would go like “default” and “nope, not today”.

Why red?

It’s a nice, bright color. You want to be seen on a bicycle, people are not even looking at the road anymore. And it’s also red like Kaneda’s legendary vehicle and I like that. I’ll stick to red.

Aren’t drivers in LA the worst?

I think they’re fine (they feel way worse when I drive my car for sure). They’ve never done anything bad to me. But I also make sure to be gracious to them: a little peace sign when they let me go while waiting. It’s just courtesy. I’m still nothing on my bike so I make sure the four-wheels predators are chilling. No taunting or anything like that. Be fluid, don’t act as if you were a full vehicle. Don’t be that biker who doesn’t give a damn.

Maintenance?

Beside the occasional flat tire and greasing the chain once a year, not much. I just broke my brake cable and one pedal, after ten years. Bike technology is fascinating when you think about it. I mean, you have a wheel that stands on an axle that needs to be locked on one side (bike frame) and is in perpetual movement on the other side (wheel). While taking all kinds of vibrations from the road and sustaining my weight on tubes full of air. The whole thing allowing me to bike 5,000+ miles a year *for years* without changing anything. Talk about resilience.

A bicycle axle is some serious technological dope ass marvel, is all I’m saying.

Myths be bugging

November 2nd, 2019 by harold

I saw Ta-Nehisi speak and Ryan Coogler asked him why he decided to try to write fiction and he said because he realized that facts and history have short arms and can’t compete with the reach of mythologies.

Kyle a.b.

That moment struck me and that take, although I absolutely understand it, freaks me the fuck out.

Myths are false. That’s the definition. They have no weight to me. Yet they’re powerful enough to start some reasoning for some people and make them believe something. More than reality.

Knowing that we need to stick to the realms of reality because the reality is that we’re fucking up our planet at an unprecedented rate, mythology being “hip” is I think, not a good thing.

As societies evolved, we’ve made progress despite myths, not thanks to them. Considering the future, feeding myths to a young crowd that has to deal with adults lying, pictures and videos being fake, deep fake, photoshop’d, people pretending being someone they aren’t on social media 24/7 while watching crossovers of actual, real history (Black Wall Street) laced with fiction (Watchmen), is some crazy ass shit. Seriously.

Those kids will not believe anything ever happened for real. I wouldn’t be surprised, with the level of BS floating online (and the impossible task of deciphering it) if kids born in 2019 don’t believe that WWII happened and was horrifying. They’ll downplay it and think it was like the movie Starship Troopers or the game Call of Duty. Brutal, but kind of fun.

I don’t like fiction like that. It’s just dangerous and kind of unconscious to make it super serious.

If facts and history have short arms, let’s not give myths longer ones. It’s not going to help at all.