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Are Black Men The New White Girls?

For every sports fan or fan of athletic black men, for whatever reason, the LeBron James Reality Show is set to end tomorrow night when he announces on ESPN at 9pm where he will play next year.  I’m just surprised he did not select the Bravo Network to make his announcement. 

Thanks to magazines like Maxim, men began slowly creeping into women’s dominion over fashion, grooming and sexual insecurity over a decade ago.  In the interest of full disclosure I occasionally get manicures and do tear up at the movie Dead Poets’ Society, but it is starting to feel like there are no differences between women and men.  I think in work and other areas where equality is needed that is great, but in general society I think it is important to have differences and embrace and enjoy them.  But thanks to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the impressively annoying Chris Bosh, the differences have been obliterated.  LeBron, Wade and Bosh are supposed to be alpha males and caricatures of male virility as elite professional athletes; so why have they become The Real Housewives of Miami?

First let’s start with Bosh.  Has a man ever sent more mixed messages?  His hair and imposing presence make me think he is hunting Arnold Schwarzenegger in a jungle, but his Tweets make me think he is one Cosmo from tweeting, “Miami is totes fab, having a quick vacay before heading to training camp with the ladies!”  Thank you Twitter for taking the position made famous by Kevin McHale, Karl Malone and Kevin Garnett and turning it into something Joel McHale can discuss on The Soup!  And if you think this is overblown, Bosh does have a documentary crew following him around.  I guess so future generations can actually witness the moment when a guy who looked like Predator became Bethany Frankel (even that I know who Bethany Frankel is is a personal crisis for me).  And all this for a player who has no business being considered a top 3 free agent.

You know what's a good way to celebrate signing with Miami? ORANGE MOCHA FRAPPACHINOS!

Then there is Dwyane Wade, who has the man street cred of having given a woman VD (not his ex-wife), but who also has a documentary crew following him.  Seriously is Oxygen or Bravo going to pick this up?  This has been like a bizarre romance between D-Wade and Bosh.  I can see them doing Real World confessionals with Wade saying, “If Chris wants me he can come to me,” and Bosh tearing up, “I just want him to want me.”  Oh wait, they may have already done that in their respective documentaries.

Then there is LeBron.  The alpha male of alpha males.  He is announcing his decision tomorrow night on ESPN.  I’m pretty sure that gay guy that does the Housewives reunion shows will be hosting it.  Where is Simon Cowell to call this “incredibly self-indulgent?”  Even Alex Rodriguez had a standard press conference when he came to the Yankees (Derek Jeter probably required it) and that guy is a cologne ad and a Men’s Health cover all in one (as in Metrosexual to the point of occasional exploration).  And A-Rod fu*ked Bethany Frankel, he did not become her.  But LeBron (and the media circus which have been willing co-conspirators) have turned this into drama that only reality show dregs can match. 

You can still be on fashion magazines if you stay in Cleveland.

And what reality show would be complete without tears and tomorrow night I expect them to be flowing from LeBron.  He can stay in Cleveland, which is his home, where he is the favorite son or he can go to one of the bigger glamorous cities.  Wait, wasn’t that the “plot” of The Hills?  See, I hate these shows and yet I am so inundated with the crap that I think I know what they are.  But I never expected the NBA to be this.  Now I may have to watch the WNBA for a more masculine version of the NBA, albeit, one with lots of layups.

But LeBron’s other options are New York, Chicago and Miami, all great cities.  If he goes to Miami I hear that Natasha Bedingfield has been commissioned to write a theme song. 

So, like I hear LeBron may go to Miami... what's like up with that? Maybe he should like go to New York because it's like really like cool there. Like Cleveland is so like, I don't know... (nervous laughter, vapid smile)

I hope he stays in Cleveland because I don’t think those other cities deserve him or will genuinely appreciate him the way that Cleveland will.  But this process has already done it’s damage.  Not just because it has turned NBA stars into trite starlets, but because it has forced me to further respect a player I do not particularly like: Kobe Bryant.  Hey, at least he’s still a man.  And if LeBron leaves Cleveland to form the Spice Girls in Miami I will do something I have never done – I’ll be rooting for Kobe in the Finals.

Yes, Kobe is still more of a man even in this pose.
Blog

Write Of Passage

December 21, 2012  has been touted as the end of the world on the Mayan calendar and by an atrocious 2009 film.  If that is the truth then a slightly less significant milestone will be missed, which is June 2, 2013 – my last day in comedy.  That’s right, like Oprah, Jay Z and Barbara Streisand I am announcing a tentative, likely to be ignored, retirement date.  That date means that I will have been performing comedy for exactly ten years.  Given a likely confluence of impending doom for my comedy career (1 term for Obama, personal bankruptcy, Type II diabetes if I continue to carry on an extra-relationship affair with Entenmann’s products, and a general sense that the brand of comedy I hope to perform (sans accent, sans unoriginal atheism, sans GPS and Viagra references) is going the way of journalism (my brother’s career which is also being sacrificed to society’s newest deities of impatience and ignorance).  So if you see me in Times Square wearing a sign that says The End Is Near you will know what I mean.

June 2, 2013?
June 2, 2013?

So given that my life as a comedian may in fact have an expiration date I have already begun my next quest to find an outlet for one of the remaining talents I have (and if you are reading this you may agree) – I have begun writing a book.

My life has been a perpetual quest for finding an adequate outlet for my particular semblance of talents and ambition.  Perhaps if I was born ten years later then I might have been stupid enough to pursue a reality television show instead of law school or stand up comedy, but I am where I am, with an education collecting dust, non-exploitative parents, some semblance of dignity and no contract with Bravo or E!.

I remember basketball being my first passion, but dreams of playing professionally seemed difficult for me since my hoops resume at the end of college would have basically read:

  • good at lifting weights
  • at 245 lbs can supply ample warmth for bench for people who play
  • 93.3% from the free throw line (true story I was 14/14 from the line and on the last play of my career – an and 1 dunk – I missed my only free throw.  This is also the answer to the future Jeopardy question: What is the most likely seed for J-L’s bitterness and sad outlook on life)
  • Microsoft Office skills
I missed the free throw and I didn't even have Mick staring me down as I shot it.
I missed the free throw and I didn't even have Mick staring me down as I shot it.

So after that dream came the reality of law school, during which I became so depressed that I turned to something that, like a mob loan shark, provided temporary relief, but long term headaches: comedy. 

So for the next three years and five months I will give it all that I can, and hopefully it does not end as a repeat of hoops, but it already feels like I have had my dunk (Craig Ferguson) and have been missing free throws ever since.  Who knows, there are examples of people attaining their dreams at late ages, Susan Boyle (who apparently at 48 has the same disease as LeBron James and Richard Harris, which adds 20-30 years of age to your mug), and the Holocaust museum shooter to name a couple.

It only took Susan Boyle 48 years to achieve her dream.  Sadly, I am not ugly enough to make my humor surprising, endearing or ironic.
It only took Susan Boyle 48 years to achieve her dream. Sadly, I am not ugly enough to make my humor surprising, endearing or ironic.

However, if comedy doesn’t work out, at least you will be able to have fun reading all about it.  If people are still reading books by the time it’s finished.

Blog

Would John Hinckley Have A Reality Show Today?

Just as technology has exponentially increased the rate at which humans achieve scientific advances and breakthroughs (cell phones do not count), it appears that our society’s thirst for fame at all costs is increasing in a similar fashion, only faster.

Tareq and Michaele Salahi, the White House Crashers, are an especially shameful example of what otherwise is a fairly logical extrapolation from our culture.  Somehow fame has become a goal in and of itself in America.  I feel like fame used to be a by-product of the talented, the accomplished and the insane.  But now a fourth group has muscled its way into this group – the average piece of sh*t.

Anything Is Possible in America: A son of a Kenyan man and a Kansas woman can become the President.  Also possible, a useless couple of social climbers can meet that man and possibly get a television show.
Anything Is Possible in America: A son of a Kenyan man and a Kansas woman can become the President. Also possible, a useless couple of social climbers can meet that man and possibly get a television show.

And we are all accomplices in this culture.  With the exception of one reality series, which I watched during the time period of 2007, during which much of my rational decision making processes were impaired temporarily, I think all of these shows are wretched.  They feature trashy people catering to the trashiest impulses of viewers (basically it took 15 years for Jerry Springer guests to clean themselves up and become celebrities).  Not satisfied with giving these people a platform on television, viewers bolster the bank accounts of these talentless fools by purchasing their “books” and other items they are able to market (for the record I don’t consider shows like American Idol “reality television” since they are just contests).

The White House Crashers have managed to put this process on steroids.  They managed to disrespect the Office (and the man) of the President of the United States, in a way that I think is worse than Joe Wilson screaming “You lie” in Congress.  All in a quest to get on a television show.  There current fame is not a validation of hard work or talent, but a means to itself. 

I have been making the point that in this age, which seems more self-absorbed and concerned with self enlightenment and self-importance, with ever decreasing importance of religion and other formerly potent forces that stressed things other than the self, we are entering a very dangerous era.  We have things like blackberries and Facebook which present the illusion of more inter-connectedness and community, but deep down that is all a joke.  We are now sinking quickly into an era where the self is king and being famous is its commandment. 

My brother came up with a great scenario that could make me ok with what happened at the White House.  Michaele Salahi hopes to be on The Real Housewives of D.C. (The Real Housewives series could have been just called Cu-ts, but Bravo did not want to disrespect cu-ts in America with such a poor portrayal).  Well, Rahm Emmanuel, Obama’s Chief of Staff is the brother of Ari Emmanuel, the super agent who is also the basis for Ari Gold on HBO’s Entourage.  Here is how Ari Emmanuel’s phone call should have gone this weekend (in Piven-esque delivery) to the producer of the Housewives series:

“I am going to make this as clear for you and the trash you work with and employ.  If this Ann Coulter looking skank and her pus-y whipped husband get within 1000 feet of any AIDS infested brothel you call a reality television show, you will no longer work in this town.  You and all the skanks on your shows will be lucky to be hired to clean the lint out of Andy Dick’s taint if they are even mentioned on your entire so-called Network.  Not only have you insulted me, but you have insulted my brother, the President and this country.  Consider yourself warned and not just like that time I told you the condom broke. (Hang up) LLOYD!!”

If Ari Gold were in charge, The Real Housewives would all be dead.  What will Ari Emmanuel do?
If Ari Gold were in charge, The Real Housewives would all be dead. What will Ari Emmanuel do?

In light of how the White House crashers got so close to President Obama, security implications are more than a little frightening.  The last hit on a president was John Hinckley on President Reagan in 1981.  He was motivated by some delusional intent to impress Jodie Foster.  The White House Crashers (I even hate using a name they are probably hoping becomes a brand – have they trademarked it yet?) certainly did not attempt anything like that (which is only partially relevant), but how long before we get to the point where the next John Hinckley takes a shot at a President to get on Bravo or E!?  Sadly, I don’t think it is far-fetched at all.  Let’s just hope he’ll be allowed to Tweet from prison – wouldn’t want to miss all of their insights.

Blog

Aging Gracelessly

Brett Favre has become a big joke to many sports fans with his inability to stop playing football and pronounce his name correctly.  This is often the case with great athletes, unable to hang up the cleats or sneakers or skates because their lives have had no other real goal or purpose other than excelling at sports.  But that is excusable in a sense because to attain the level of excellence they have achieved they had to be single minded from a young age and dedicated beyond reason to get where they are.  Sort of like Michael Jackson minus the all the abuse.
Brett Favre warming up for another season.
Brett Favre warming up for another season.

But it seems to me that from Facebook and fantasy sports to Harry Potter and plastic surgery our culture is obsessed with staying in our teens and twenties no matter what.  And to compensate for this, we’ve begun to add the words “classic” and “historic” to things that have not really obtained classic or historic status in any objective sense of the word.  Harry Potter is not a “classic” as is printed on the book covers.  And unlike its true classic predecessors, The Lord of The Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia, which have withstood a test of time, Potter has no deeper meaning or societal commentary that is usually necessary for something to gain elevation beyond pop relevance.  But to justify our culture’s unwarranted obsession with things puerile and fleeting we tag them with words like classic so that instead of feeling vapid we feel like part of something important.  And boy do we live in a golden age of importance!

Ipod now refers to the regular iPod as “iPod classic” – how many decades was Coca Cola in business before they threw classic on their beverage.  Watching the E! channel against my will yesterday I heard Ryan Seacrest make a bold proclamation that the cast of Dancing With The Stars this Fall was the largest in the show’s “History! ” It just seemed to cheapen the word History.  I think of History in terms decades and centuries, not in terms of a few television seasons.  To say nothing of the fact that the word “star” is still a misnomer for this show.  

At this age I was already "classic" in today's terms.  As opposed to the bow tie look, which was and is classic in the more traditional sense.
At this age I was already "classic" in today's terms. As opposed to the bow tie look, which was and is classic in the more traditional sense.

Fame has always been fleeting and cheap, but even by that low standard it feels like we are actually living through a time where the value of celebrity is being downgraded.  If he had known what we know now Andy Warhol might have re-stated, everyone will get their 2-3 seasons of fame.  Like the Kardashians. 

But to quote DeNiro from Heat, there is a flip side to this coin.  While older people are trying to resist maturity, their kids, left under the watchful and protective eyes of cell phones and the Internet, are in a hurry to leave childhood.  I watched Big yesterday, the film with Tom Hanks.  And in it he plays a 12 year old boy who likes playing with toys and does not know much about girls, etc.  It was a fun, humorous film and completely unrelatable to kids today.  Nowadays to get a kid to act like that and have the audience believe it, it would have to be a 7 year old, because by 12 Josh Baskins c. 2009 would be sexting on his iPhone and encouraging Elizabeth Perkins to do that thing he saw in a porno. 

Josh Baskin 2009: I want to be big.  Then I want to bang Elizabeth Perkins and put it on YouPorn.
Josh Baskin 2009: I want to be big. Then I want to bang Elizabeth Perkins and put it on YouPorn.

If I were to make a satirical film about the future it would just feature a society filled with people who looked 24 – some would be 13 year olds trying to look and act older, neglecting the fun and innocence of youth; others would be 58 trying through surgery and fashion to look younger and neglecting the wisdom and quality that can come from a long and fulfilling life.  Then there would be a group of 24 year olds going, “What the fu-k is going on?”  And it will star Seth Rogan playing all three since he is the only actor in his 20s who acts like a teenager, but looks much older than he actually is.

Seth Rogan, The Embodiment of America: Act 17, Real Age 47, Claim To Be 27
Seth Rogan, The Embodiment of America: Act 17, Real Age 47, Claim To Be 27

The Empire State Building was built around 80 years ago in 14 months.  I look around Manhattan and see buildings one-fifth the size taking five times as long to build.  Technology serves a legitimate function, but I feel like our culture in general is taking major steps backwards, while the bells and whistles of technology give us the appearance of progress.  As my Uncle is fond of saying, “Don’t confuse movement with action.”  Right now it feels like our culture is making a lot of movement, but not much action. 

Now back to my Nintendo Wii.