My man Red

June 20th, 2018 by harold

LA5400

A small, strong dude with the name of his mom tattooed on the back of his shaved skull. Yesterday, he closed his auto shop. Twenty-five years.

His name is Israel. Always tight with his old school hip hop style. LA cap, cool glasses, white sleeveless shirt, baggy jeans and a pair of old red Js or Timbs. He’s in his mid-fifties looking like a small version of Fat Joe.

His business being across the street from my room, I saw him work six to seven days a week changing tires from 7am to 8pm. During heat waves or torrential rain, it didn’t matter. My man was out there with his assistant. I’ve seen cars pulling up with a flat regularly. Always wondering why they would go to his shop when there’s an auto shop every block in this part of Los Angeles. Great customer service, I suppose.

He hooked me up with two Mexican brothers to help me find a car a few years ago. We did find one far away –they gave me a ride– but I couldn’t afford it. I told him good morning if not everyday, every other day. “How’s life treating you man?” he would ask me, pulling me aside on the sidewalk. I would You Know this shit hard, more amused and more thankful for his thoughtful question than willing to answer properly. One time he wasn’t look well. As I passed his shop every weekend to shoot my basketball, that time I stopped and asked him what was going on. He was just sad because of some family bullshit, some conflict with his kids and his ex-wife. He was sad enough to need a hug. I hugged that man on the corner like he was family.

It was just black and brown people doing business around cars and tires. Maybe there was something else. Maybe not. He owned his shop and was very proud of that. He told me multiple times that he didn’t like that gentrification going on but that he was not concerned. Until they come for you. And it’s really a weird, elusive “they”. Some motherfucking ghostly holding for which $1M is actually like a dollar bill, probably patiently waiting to get rid of all the small shops on that block. That’s how things are now.

On Sunday as he was emptying his space, I went over and gave him a bottle of wine. Neighbors and customers stopping by to help or drop a plate of food. He was visibly exhausted. Sad. He told me that he got his money so, all good? Money matters but don’t matter at the same time. He’s planning on moving out of LA and find a place somewhere south. It’s hard to start over. I know that.

Yesterday, when the sun was going down as I was playing bass, I could see him alone in his empty lot, strolling, remembering, wiping his face from all the liquid coming out of his holes. He was looking around and he really was red. He had this road sign on the wall, BIG DADDY BLVD. He slammed the doors of his blue truck in slow motion and painfully drove away.

I’ll miss his stroll. I’ll miss waving and shouting “have a great day!” at him and hear him answer whatever, he has already waved back as I’m speeding up. I’ll miss hearing him laugh in the aisle of our local market. He knows everyone.

As I was reading this last night, I couldn’t stop crying. People of Los Angeles and cities on earth, it’s time to fight. Talk to your fucking billionaire friend and tell him to fucking chill and retreat to his/her far away gated community, far from us the 7.5 billion peasants out there.

The Sound of Atlanta

June 17th, 2018 by harold

Atlanta

From the piano in the background of the cashier scene detuning and glitching, to the silence when Earn looks through the glass walls at the agency while people look at him, to the creepy ambiences in the creepiest episode to the hard-drives noises in the studio to the sound of scissors, sprays, brushes in the barbershop story, Atlanta has wonderful sound design. Very clean. Perfectly chosen.

The same is true with the music selection, always on point. But there’s another thing that I love about the sound, it’s what I call the “little sentences”.

Episode 3. They’re outside the club and about to get in. The bouncer is like “twenty for dudes, bruh”. And Earn, simply looking in his wallet repeats “twenty…” and the bouncer replies “twenty for dudes, bruh”. It’s almost like a sound effect. There’s this line in episode 7 when the girls are selling selfies to Van and the hustler is like “wassuup watcha gonna dew” at low volume, like some kind of little snark. Every episode, there are some little sentences. “mmh fuck with me, mmh” in Episode 1. “Oh yeah that one don’t work good” in Episode 5. The stupid lama laugh in Episode 4. “Man I’m bruising this boy” in Episode 11. So forth. They stick.

It’s part of the writing but it ends up being the sound. Catchphrases are this audio/thoughts hybrid to me. There’s the serious, cinematographic sound of Atlanta. And then there’s the goofy, quirky, sound of Atlanta.

Another layer added that makes the show more special.

Conundrum City

June 14th, 2018 by harold

A lot happening and not a lot happening amirite.

Sports season is over so no more analysis to get my brain busy on non-consequential shit.

I’m reading a lot about urban design and city plans, how incredibly political and crucial all that stuff is. Architecture analysis. Keeping my brain busy.

Watching E3’s gameplay demos. Analyzing systems, visuals, what’s being hidden and what’s not. Looking at NPCs, analyzing how they move, on which triggers. What sound can bring. Analyzing.

Waiting on job applications with candles, prayers, sacrifices. I have my best men and women on this to help me out and well, half the year has passed already and haven’t heard back from uh, no one. It’s rough. I know it’s not me. I got to keep going. Appetite is infinite. Anger is right there. I go back reading about design stuff.

I have French conversations twice a week with this older white man who’s going on a trip to Normandy later this year. I help those black women with IT stuff. I talk to my young coworker and tell her to keep her head up. Racial tensions are high, they‘re just dormant under the scab. Gentrification is really not welcome nor helping. I think LA gangs might start to think of raising some hell. They’re fed up. All south LA is fed up.

Sometimes I feel like I know too much. You know, the entire map of social relationships. Most people stay in one area and look a little bit over there, but that’s it. I roam all those streets, learn, freak out a bit at what it will take to solve that particular issue. Then I’m tired. Hope for breakfast, anxiety for dinner.

I started handing my memoir to a few selected readers. Curious to see how they will react. Mentioning a little bit my background floors people. Black people even more. They’re like “how the fuck?” and I’m like “I don’t know”. Still going though.

Bellabass

June 14th, 2018 by harold

Composed and recorded in one quick shot. Best to listen to it in a calm environment at low volume.

Close your eyes.

NBAFinals2018

June 9th, 2018 by harold

Man, it was pretty much exactly what it should have been. Teamwork wins, all day everyday.

Cleveland never had a team. They had a bunch of guys playing for one guy: LeBron James. And the Warriors controlled him like a RC car. People act like he was missing shots just because of a self-made injury or because of the rest of the Cavs. In 2015, LBJ could flick his wrist on a drive and Steph Curry was gone.

Not in 2018. Steph Curry beefed up. He also knows LeBron well now, and has teammates who know when to help. The Warriors had 13 blocks last night. The Cavs had 5.

Finals are won on defense. LeBron never moves his ass back, using his amazing physical abilities to disrupt the flow. I have watched the 1998 NBA finals at the same time and Michael misses many shots. Some pretty bad shots too. But man, he’s back on defense and suffocating anyone he has to guard, immediately. Like Draymond last night, airballing a wide open 3. The next 5 or so offensive rebounds were his. WERK

To win, you need consistent ball movement, offensive/defensive balance and fugly hustle, that’s how it is. You can’t just change an entire team, drive to the basket and believe that’s going to be enough. And it’s true, the way the media ride his dick is detrimental to his greatness. It’s a disservice and now he’s paying the consequences.

All his teammates fired earlier this year did well if not excellent with other teams. Kyrie, the dude who put the clutch 3 for their title in 2016, wanted out. I mean, that’s pretty straight evidence of LBJ’s shortcomings as a leader and team player. Statistics are meaningless. Ask CP3.

Meanwhile, KD has quietly been the best NBA player, again. Scores with an insolent efficiency, defends with smart vision and pretty much never misses free throws. Also starts passing very well. Kevin Durant doesn’t give a fuck. He’s proven that he’s on another level right now.

So, LeBron at the Sixers? Why not. He needs to take the backseat though, otherwise that won’t work. Next year’s Celtics are scary as hell. I hope my Spurs work out strong this off-season and come back with Kawhi, better than ever. I hope Danny Green 3PT shooting is back because phew, it’s going to be needed in the West. You can’t be 4 of 30 from 3 in the playoffs anymore.

All teams en route to defeat Golden State’s 3peat. The last time a team won 3 championships in a row was 2000-2002 with the Lakers. The Warriors look like they have the range to do it. It’s going to be a great new season. Ball is life.

WCFECF 2018

May 29th, 2018 by harold

I was writing about the three over a month ago:

Now, during the playoffs it’s way different. Teams expect those shooters beyond the arc and will make sure they don’t get the ball that often. The shooter has all the pressure and that’s where shooting 3s becomes a curse: you miss one. You miss two. Four. It’s the playoffs. Not scoring leads to stressed AF really fast. Then you doubt. Should you try again? Should you pass, drive? If you hesitate, you lose.

It becomes a curse. You try to focus on making those 3s and suddenly your defense sucks hard.

The Rockets missed 37 threes and the Celtics missed 32 of those in game 7, showing that my theory about the three in the playoff was on point. If they don’t go in, the opposing team gets the rebound 70% of the time. Missed 3s totally ruin your mind and your defensive focus, and then you lose. Which also highlights how good the Warriors are (16 threes made on the road last night).

Those finals were ugly. Team basketball should have won the East: Boston definitely had the best basketball there. But then they shit the bed catastrophically and of course, LeBron. In the West, it made sense: ugly iso from Houston couldn’t win and I’m glad because it’s the ugliest basketball. Jesus, those dribbles.

This is also a reminder that stats don’t matter: the Rockets have had an amazing season. Harden and most of his teammates have great playoff numbers. It doesn’t matter now. It don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got no ring.

BlackOut

May 27th, 2018 by harold

GoPro Mosaic

From my last reel.

On that last picture I’m fist bumping my neighbor who was saying hi.

AnotherLoop

May 27th, 2018 by harold

So Bill Cosby is going down.

R Kelly is going down. A bunch of rappers too.

Morgan Freeman as well.

It’s okay. What’s frustrating is the sanity-destroying usual double standard: black men go down while white men with the same crimes just stay president or whatever. It’s the same thing with the thousands of black folks in jail for weed while the business is booming outside black neighborhoods. It’s the same with cops killing innocent black folks but arresting white killers like “hey, it looks like you did something wrong here at that school, ‘mind following us?”.

Time to nod, shake head and grind teeth. Stay strong. Everything is as usual.

Betty Davis

May 26th, 2018 by harold

There’s a documentary out this year about her.

Betty’s music has been on regular rotation in my life since the early 2000.

I have the hardest time to swallow the fact that Miles Davis abused her. She transformed him, Miles, one of the most important musician ever. She introduced him to Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone music. He beat her up.

The music industry beat her up closed the door on her. Too carefree. Not pop enough. Whatever.

Her music is good. Sometimes absolutely great. Her presence on stage looks like you needed a whole fire department next to the building, ready to hose it down.

Her artistic and production choices were on point. She and her collaborators really had her sound. Big Ass Drums. Growling Bass. Dynamic. I’ll always imagine what she could have done later on.

She truly doesn’t give a fuck. She didn’t disappear to be found. No one really knew anything about her life for decades. Now older, she is ready to tell her story.

If you read this Betty, I love you. You’re the best. You’re the inspiration for many, many things and people. Thank you.

Things I’ve learned after one year of public space help desk

May 26th, 2018 by harold

People don’t care about browsers at all.

Jesus, tech people. No one gives a damn about what app to use to get shit done. No one cares. We have Win7 machines with IE and Chrome. People choose IE all the time. Not because they don’t know what Chrome is, but because they don’t give a damn and Internet Explorer sounds like the right program to go online with when Google Chrome doesn’t really have a ring to it. That’s it. You can tell them to use the other one, they might do so but most likely, they don’t care. Sometimes old forms work best in IE, sometimes it’s slightly better in Chrome. No one cares. People care about how fast things are and that’s on the website itself. And yes, these days, without a few extensions blocking all that stuff –which we don’t have-, websites are amazingly terrible (see below).

Google makes so much money off of computer-illiterate people.

Not that I didn’t know, but seeing it happening is heartbreaking. People over-trust Google, the "don’t be evil" brand that ceased to exist over a decade ago. They think they are here to help. Everybody will be clicking on that first link. Especially after a long day. Especially when it’s about finding some info to get a new place to live in because of sudden and brutal gentrification. Especially when you have two kids around your desk, especially when your time is limited (we have one-hour sessions). Anxiety pushes people to give up being cautious and Google designs its search pages to maximize clicks on ads. It’s hard to witness. Google was supposed to lift up people. It’s only using them. Microsoft might "force" you to buy a Windows PC but it gives you a ton of agency: you can create, you can produce anything. Google just traps people and acts as if it didn’t know that, as if it wasn’t milking the fuck out of people’s desperation. It’s gross. I have no idea how to un-fuck ourselves on that one. Use other services, people.

Websites have become absolutely obnoxious times 9000

Sites that push you to use their apps, constantly. The always-happening pop-up to subscribe to the newsletter. The scripts running, tracking your location, habits. The share buttons, the fake websites just there for people to drop their phone number in the first form that is asking for it. I don’t blame people for not really liking going online to retrieve information. It’s just an annoying, never ending dodging game, regardless of your computer proficiency.

Most people don’t know how to navigate to their files.

Illiteracy again. The problem is, knowing where you put your files on a computer is kind of like knowing where you put your pants in the morning: it’s crucial. I help people a lot with that. It’s so built-in in my mind it’s ridiculous. Very humbling. Very sad too.

Women are so much more willing to learn.

It’s funny. It’s not that dudes don’t want to get help but pretty much only women tell me "don’t tell me, I’m trying to remember how to do that" or "show me what you just did". Men feel very grateful to get help or feel guilty that they can’t do something on their own. They never ask to become independent. They just get what they need and will ask over and over, they won’t be shy about that. "Thanks man!" You’re welcome…

All digital UI/UX are sad.

What we do more and more on computers (laptops desktops, tablets, phones) is cancelling, discarding, clicking "no thanks", "remind me later", "clear all" "don’t do this you fucking idiot computer". It’s awful, and it’s pushing people to NOT learn how to use computers. Thanks tech companies for being ruthless. You guys could set up some decent standards but no, you need to do the opposite of your competition, to get an edge (look at the insanity of keyboard layouts on laptops). And what happens is that you don’t get an edge at all (I’ve had people yelling after some iOS update and gestures fucking up their lives). People hate their devices, don’t care about your brand, get worse at dealing with computers and it’s a vicious circle that keeps pushing in a downward spiral because the solution from tech companies is: buy some new stuff, it will fix the problem. Don’t bother understanding what’s going on. Just trust us and click/tap. Also buy.

If cars or home appliances were being designed today, buttons would be on the side, at the bottom and some company would try to convince us that having the wheel on the ceiling really is a great feature.