Category Archives: discussion

The Importance of Being Objectified

Friends,

I’m writing this post as a companion piece to a vlog I just recorded and am currently uploading which can be found here. In said vlog I discuss how being sought after and lusted after is a relatively new experience for me and it’s awesomeness wore off quick. Oftentimes, accentuating my physique with certain clothing choices has been more problematic than anything.

ANDRE GUANTANAMO 3
Woe is me.

This first occurred to me doing improv a couple summers ago while wearing an undershirt. Every scene became about my exposed muscles and I didn’t want that to be the crux of every onstage interaction. So, I started wearing baggier clothes for that specific purpose as well as fuller cut t-shirts. I find myself going through this again now that I have recently started doing standup: I’ve been advised that being fit and relatively good-looking should be de-emphasized so that I’m more relatable and people feel more comfortable laughing at my jokes. It’s a bit of a tough pill to swallow because on some level I feel like how I dress shouldn’t matter, but I’m finding out it does. I feel like my options at this point are to completely de-emphasize my physique with my clothing choices or go balls to the wall and own it, wearing nothing but wife-beaters and tight leather pants, essentially making a caricature of myself. While that could lead to some great jokes it might make it difficult to touch on more serious issues in earnest. So while I might experiment with the latter, I think that going forward, the best option would be to dress more neutrally.

However, the objectification isn’t all bad either. I have often gotten acting roles that required a fit or physically imposing actor based at least partly on how I looked. More often than not these have been roles with great depth that afforded me the opportunity to cultivate a strong character who just happened to be fit (see above photo). I’m certainly not shy about “pimping” my physique for such roles but I acknowledge that the way I look has an expiration date and that I have to base not only my career choices but my sense of self-worth on something more substantial than my physical appearance.

All in all, I think the experience of being objectified has been an important one. Had I never had it, I might have falsely believed it was the key to lasting happiness. It is decidedly not.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo
Instagram: @dreguan
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Demo Reel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gdwhemiqzc

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My (Current) Favourite Conspiracy Theories

Friends,

Despite how the two may be conflated in the derision and pejorative of the self-appointed guardians of the status quo, I still draw a distinction between conspiracy theory and critical thought. More specifically, I try my hardest to stay grounded in the latter without running away wildly in the realm of the former. That said, conspiracy theories can be fun shit and from time to time I like to put my tinfoil hat on and make bold predictions about current conspiracies and possible future ones.
And for the record, I’m not making any accusations here. Instead I’m acknowledging not simply possibilities, but plausibilities. For the purposes of this post, I’m less concerned with what is provably true and more concerned with what could be true.

The Activism Conspiracy
Look at all of the issues-based groups that are all agitating for change along certain gendered, racial or sexuality lines. Instead of trying to transcend a system which disenfranchises some for the benefit of others they are simply fighting for more without addressing the structural causes of deprivation. To me, this is very reminiscent of divide and conquer and it strikes me as not only plausible but highly likely that certain parties, whether corporate or governmental, might have an interest in infiltrating and radicalizing issues-based groups so as to keep them from working in harmony and addressing underlying problems.

The Identity Conspiracy
Closely related to the Activism Conspiracy, the ID Conspiracy has to do with the notion of “celebrating our differences.” We see this on the macro scale with nationalism and the Olympics, but also, at the micro scale with individuals making identity associations with skin colour, gender, sexuality, regions, schools of thought, etc. This is an inherently divisive practice which might be promoted by the same provocateurs behind the Activism Conspiracy. I think the ultimate end objective of the ID Conspiracy  is to not simply divide people but to make each fractional demographic seek legal ratification as their benchmark of legitimacy. By seeking this ratification and the associated rights and privileges afforded by being part of a legally recognized group, they think they are being empowered but they are really playing by the establishment’s rules.

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Also, they are doing violence through separation simply by defining themselves as different from other human beings who they are fundamentally the same as.

The “Conspiracy Theory” Conspiracy Theory
This insidious conspiracy happens when extreme, paranoid objections to a certain practices are inserted into related discussion to marginalize legitimate objections. We see this one at work when people talk about flouride in the water. Paranoid types love to talk about how Hitler put sodium flouride into the water in concentration camps to make people docile. We’re also told that flouride calcifies (flouridifies???) our pineal gland or “third eye,” preventing us from achieving enlightenment, and so on. What is not so commonly discussed is how sodium flouride is simply an industrial waste product which crafty businessmen have sold as tooth-protecting snake-oil to municipalities (probably with bribes) so they could turn a profit from their waste product rather than paying for costly disposal. To deal with objections to the municipalities buying poison, interested groups flood the internet with fringe articles about NWO flouride conspiracies so that anyone with a legitimate objection is immediately lumped into the conspiracy camp.
We see this at play with chemtrails too. Nobody is talking about how plane exhaust is horribly polluting the upper atmosphere because the conversation is so skewed in the direction of what harmful carcinogens and morgellons– causing chemicals are being deliberately released as part of some “Satanic New World Order Depopulation Agenda.” And who is skewing the conversation in these extreme paranoid directions? Well that is really the heart of this particular theory, isn’t it?

The Russell Brand Conspiracy Theory
This one hurts me the most to talk about cause I love that Russell Brand has been so outspoken as of late. The Trews is great and I find myself agreeing with just about everything he says but more importantly, agreeing with how he arrived at those conclusions. He may not have all of the answers but he has shown time and again that he is not afraid to ask the right questions. He has the charisma of a great leader, the eloquence of a great orator and the humor and humility of a real human being. He makes no apologies for his shortcomings and actually acknowledges them and is very open about his past struggles with drugs and current struggles with narcissism and all of the trappings of fame. I listen to him and I feel like someone else gets me and that maybe, just maybe, everything will be ok.
So, bearing that in mind, imagine how I would feel if tomorrow morning I woke up and #RussellBrandRapesYoungBoys was trending?

"Rock Of Ages" Press Conference

I would be devastated and honestly probably a little embarrassed, which seems like a petty emotion given the fact that little boys are being allegedly raped. But then I have posted a lot of his videos, and now like Peter denying he knew Jesus to the Roman soldiers I would try and distance myself from the alleged pedophile rapist. The conversation about Russell Brand would be less about the merit of what he was saying and more about who he was raping and how criminally underage they were. All the great ideas he has talked about would almost be taboo because to mention anything that even smelled like an idea he posited would be to support the rape of children.
I hope I’m wrong about this and that it never happens, but defaming figureheads is a powerful tactic to stymie a movement; look at what happened to Wikileaks after Julian Assange was charged with sexual assault; the conversation ceased to be about malfeasance in Iraq and became about the character of the founder. Fuck, the allegations wouldn’t even have to be true, as anyone who disagreed with what Brand said would cling to the notion that he was a pedophile even if he was cleared. It’s an ugly business, slander is. But it happens. I hope it doesn’t though…

I hope you enjoyed my predictions and maybe some day I’ll be vindicated by being proven right. But I really hope not :-S

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

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“What Did We Expect?”

Friends,

Apologies in advance if this post seems insensitive, but today I heard that the Ferguson grand jury opted not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the August 9 killing of Mike Brown. Last week, in anticipation of this decision, the Missouri governor opted to call in the national guard to deal with possible rioting. It turns out he was right to expect rioting as the city is currently burning.
Before going further I want to state for the record that I hope this demonstration of justifiable anger peters out with as little violence as possible and before heavy-handed state action is undertaken against people resulting in more needless death.
Notice I used the word justifiable there? The anger is justifiable but it is very misplaced and contingent upon an unrealistic expectation; namely that the criminal justice system is or at least should be fair.
There is a parable that comes to mind about an old man who makes the same joke over and over again in front of an audience and they laugh a little less each time. When the laughter subsides completely after the nth telling of the joke, he asks them why, “if they don’t laugh repeatedly for the same joke, do they cry repeatedly for the same tragedy?” I think the truth here is that as many times as we have seen this drama play out again and again, little to no action has been taken to mitigate structural violence, or the institutionalized racism which rises from it.
Speaking more broadly here about the state’s use of violence against its citizenry regardless of skin colour, do we really expect a different outcome than state-sanctioned murder when we have an impoverished and shamed lower class being supervised by an armed constabulary working to preserve the status quo? And, after seeing many of their fellow officers get off after using excessive and/or deadly force, are police officers really even scared to kill an unarmed man any more?
But I digress because this wasn’t meant to be an indictment of the police (we all know how well that would go), but rather a piece of critical advice to those outraged over the verdict: “What did you expect?” We’ve all seen this happen before and we knew it would happen again. So why do you maintain a steadfast devotion to a system that repeatedly lets you down and disappoints ad infinitum?
Personally, looking at things in the broadest sense, I don’t want Darren Wilson to go to jail for killing Mike Brown, but that is only because I think the incarceration paradigm is one of the most barbaric institutions we still have, second perhaps only to war. It makes people more violent and does little or nothing to rehabilitate. And, seeing as Darren Wilson is first and foremost a fellow human being, I don’t want to see him suffer. That said, I can see how the apparent double standard might be, shall we say, irksome?
But again, to those bothered by his lack of culpability I say, what did you expect? And more importantly, what are YOU gonna do differently this time around? We’ve all seen that impotent outbursts of anger like riots are just playing by the establishment’s rules: they start off strong and hopeful of effecting some kind of meaningful change or retribution, but before you know it they have fizzled out because people can no longer sustain that level of righteous indignation (It’s exhausting being angry all the time, trust me). Even worse, the violence justifies, nay, begs for more state heavy-handedness. And what do we think that will lead to? HINT: It won’t lead to more unarmed citizens NOT getting shot by police.
Bottom line: if we really feel raw about this type of impunity for agents of the state (read: cops), we need to withdraw support from the state rather than naively expecting it to police and govern itself in a way that will be fair to us. The minute we allow any matter to be taken up by the state’s courts we can’t reasonably expect a result that won’t be in accordance with state interests. And seeing as the police are agents of the state, is it unreasonable to assume that finding them guilty of murder just might not be in the state’s best interest?
Am I veering into the conspiratorial? Perhaps. But the way I see it, questioning any official narrative or official explanation these days is viewed as conspiratorial. So if I’m not dabbling in that territory I’m just not thinking critically enough.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

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Hall of Otis

Friends,

One of my favourite songs from recent years is the Jay-Z and Kanye collaboration “Otis” from the joint album, Watch the Throne. In short, the song is disgusting with almost universally positive reviews.* But you know how it go: you do something that works and everyone imitates it. In fact, there has been a falsehood perpetuated over the last few years in hip-hop that success can be measured as proportionate to level of hatred one receives, but the truth is more intuitive: success is directly proportionate to how many people jock, dick-ride, emulate and straight-up copy you. “Imitation is the highest form of flattery,” after all. And imitators there have been, all taking the song’s slick beat and dropping tight lyrics about their own exploits. Four such imitators are noteworthy enough to me to warrant mention and I want to rate them and see how they stack up against the original.
So first, the original…

1. Otis by Jay-Z and Kanye West
Best Lines: ” I guess I got my swagger back.”
“Sophisticated ignorance, write my curses in cursive.”
“Everything’s for sale; I got five passports, I’m never goin to jail.”
“Build your fences, we diggin’ tunnls,” etc… (near every line in the song is a best line)
Worst Lines: N/A

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   Fuck, what can I say about this song that hasn’t already been said about a finger in your ass while getting a blowjob? Amazing! The wordplay is playful, clever and tight and it’s an unapologetic celebration of everything that’s wrong with the world. In fact, the only legit criticism I have ever heard levied at this song came from my friend, Adriana who lamented that the homage to excess, vice and privilege was completely un-ironic and thus an unwitting display of aberrant values. For this view I have some sympathy, but only to a point because my appreciation of the song is more contingent on what it meant to me and not what it meant to Jay and Ye.
This song is gonna serve as the control, if I may be so bold as to potentially misuse scientific language for the purposes of a “for fun” blog post. Gonna rate it on the scientifically-approved scale of 10.

Rating: 10/10

Now for the challengers…

2. Otis (Remix) by Busta Rhymes & DMX
Best Lines: “”Two niggaz reppin’ the ‘R’ -X and X!!”
“Don’t worry bout what condition I’m in, you cats can’t survive half the places I been.”
Anytime DMX growls like a dog.
Worst Lines: “DON’T. TALK. BACK. When your father’s talkin’ to you!”

Busta-Rhymes-DMX-OTIS-REMIX

   This version fucks with me. At the outset I thought to myself, “OH NOES, poor Kanye and Jay are gonna get murdered on their own track.” It was a reasonable assumption; on top of the fact that neither Busta or DMX are slouches on the mic, both have achieved mainstream success and arguably even icon status throughout their careers. And, in the case of DMX, everyone loves a comeback. But somehow this version…fails to deliver, and I’m not even 100% sure why. Even the wack rhymes aren’t that bad.
Some observations though: DMX is definitely the stronger MC on the track but that has less to do with him being “better” than Busta in any absolute sense. Rather, I think it has more to do with the fact that Busta seems to be gearing his delivery to sound more like DMX, menacing and violent. Don’t get me wrong, Busta can be legitimately threatening, but nobody does it like DMX and when you are going back and forth with him on a track it only accentuates how much better he is than you at it. I would have preferred Busta to deliver his rhymes in his more rapid, staccato style with heavily accentuated breaks followed by near-immediate, seamless re-immersion into rapid, staccato delivery (See What’s Happenin’, Fire, Thank-You, etc.).
Also, I don’t like the heavy use of sound effects on the track. I’m not saying it’s bad but it just doesn’t appeal to me personally.

Rating: 8/10

3. Otis Freestyle by Cassidy feat. Jag
Best Lines: “Scream at me if you need the trees, or the ‘white bitch’ (COCAINE) -I work the morning and the night shift.”
“In Philly I’m a willy/wheelie like a bike trick,”
“I’m from a ‘get shot in the face’ hood,”
Larsiny we in this bitch now -niggas need to leave, apply pressure to a nigga neck -he don’t need to breathe,” etc..
Worst Lines: N/A

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   Straight-up: this version is ill and it probably comes the closest to eclipsing the Jay/Kanye original. Why? Well it’s a solid track with no wack rhymes for one. And while I think Cassidy clearly shines brighter than Jag, the latter is no slouch either. Rather his more subtly delivered punchlines serve to compliment and offset Cassidy’s often crude hilarity. The two have a definite rapport which I where I think they outdo Kanye and Jay, as their back and forth is seamless like Ghostface and Raekwon. For the uninitiated, that’s lofty praise.
On a separate note, I have become something of a fan of Cassidy in recent years, and that’s in spite of the fact that my tastes in music have changed and matured. While I listen to less and less music promoting criminality and violence I can’t help but smile when I hear Cass’ well-wrought punchlines about cooking up dope, killing people, etc. And it’s that same cleverness which really elevates this track.
The sad reality is that because neither Cassidy or Jag have the profile and stardom of Jay and Kanye, this track never got the exposure it deserved outside of the internet. Still from a technical perspective, it’s pretty unfuckwithable.

Rating: 9.5/10

4. Otis Freestyle by Justin Bieber
Best Lines: “Pull up on my enemies, see if they remember me, soon as they remember me, I wipe away they memory.”
“Ridin’ in a all-black Benz, with the all-black rims, and we lookin at some 10s through our all-black lenses.”
“Get it done abundantly, she wants to get up under me, I swear that I got hundred these cause baby I’m a money tree, so be my little honey, be my little bitty bunny, I got honeys all up on me -baby I just get it dunny.”
Worst Lines: “Started playin’ drums when I was only 2, now I kick it in Japan -Kung Fu!”
“I thanked Jesus at the awards, I’m never goin to hell, call me Zack Morris I’m savin ya by the bell.”
“My girls says I’m perfect … I think she is perfectly perfectly perfect.”

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   There is so much right with this version that it’s a damn shame some of the lyrics are so wack. Out of all the challengers, JB is in the best position to cut a track in the same spirit of opulence, stardom and fabulous wealth as the original. And so he does, even quoting Kanye’s line, “Can’t you see the private jets flying over you?” But the problems are of a more technical nature: Pubescent white-boy delivery notwithstanding, Justin seems to be good at emulating great rap but his verses and delivery seem a bit robotic and overly MCish. He tries to cram too many multi-syllabic words in as a seeming cover for not feeling comfortable enough in his own rhyming skin to just flow on the track.  Overall, this version has a a “Hey, look what I can do” vibe rather than the “Shut-up and listen while I break it down for you real quick” vibe I would prefer and which would be better suited to the tone he is aiming for.
I love this version and I respect his effort, but I think JB needs to spend more time developing his rap voice to the level of his singing voice before he can be a serious contender in the rap game.

Rating: 7/10

5. Otis (Remix) by Papoose
Best Lines: “Actin like you fly -STOP, Imma tell you like they told Joe Pesci, go get your motherfuckin’ shinebox!”
“There’s no tomorrow, throw a hollow, all the haters know the motto, cop a mother-lode of bottles, tell the waiter hold the sparkles…”
“You fickle, you couldn’t hustle a nickel out a dimespot.”
“I serve my beef with shells like a fuckin’ taco.”
“Make my Bed in the Stuy -I sleep in y’all streets.”
Worst Lines: “I live in a condo big as Kilimanjaro.”
“I don’t even know the vowels, I-O-U,  gener-AL like Colin Powell,”

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   Once again, so much right with this track that it pains me to see so many missteps. From a technical perspective, this is the kind of delivery Bieber should be aspiring to right now, but from Papoose, a seasoned MC known for lyricism, I think he coulda done better. Like JB, there is way too many instances of ostentatious muli-syllabic rhymes which just seem extraneous. And while there are some great punchlines (I absolutely love the Joe Pesci/Goodfellas reference) on the whole it wasn’t consistently amusing enough like Cassidy’s raps to take me forget that he’s rapping a lot of negative, crime-related shit.
I will give Pap credit though, he does wax conscious in certain parts, like when he tells young girls, “You don’t need implants to get your body all stern, if you just eat right your ass will be more firm.” Actually he spends a few consecutive bars toward the end of the track trying to “teach the younger generation,” going so far as to lament that young black girls, possibly taught to be ashamed of their blackness, seek perms to achieve a more white aesthetic. That’s my interpretation anyways, but I gotta give him props because he shows real honesty and pretty skillfully walks the line between conscious and preachy.
   One more similarity between this version and the JB version is that it’s a solo track. While I’m not necessarily against that, I don’t think it’s any accident that the two highest-ranking versions of the song I have here are duets. It’s a BIG beat and if you’re gonna attack it solo you gotta bring it.

Rating: 8/10

   I hope you enjoyed my critique of these tracks and that it has instilled a similar appreciation of the original song and all of its spin-offs in you.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

*By “universal” I simply mean that I hadn’t seen a single bad review of it in my thorough and exhaustive search on google where I didn’t look past the first page.

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HA HA! DATING!

“I have infinite hate in my blood; it’s mainly cause of the game of love.”
-Eminem, “Love Game

Friends,

A few months back I found myself newly-single. It wasn’t a bitter event; just two people who had simply grown apart. But for the first time in five years or so I found myself back in the dating game, and I was determined to be more mature and respectful about dating than I had been been as a walking hard-on back in my mid-20s. After all, you can’t be a jackass your whole life.

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Or can you?…

Honesty (General)

Now I have to confess, relationship endings are often blurry affairs so I was already talking to and getting to know some people while still technically in a relationship. I guess I needed to fill that vacuum of companionship that had developed as me and my ex had grown apart. But the upshot was that psychologically I already had a little bit of momentum when I became single for realz, as opposed to previous break-ups where I basically found myself suddenly alone and feeling adrift and desperate. So with said momentum, the break-up came like a starting shot for a race, and I was off!
But like I said, I’m more mature than I was five years ago and I had a different set of priorities vis a vis relationships. I realized that I didn’t (don’t) want a traditional monogamous relationship as I have known thus far. Instead, I wanted (want) beautiful experiences with beautiful people. Some people call that poly-amory or other things, but anyone who reads my blog knows I’m not big on labeling things. So while I don’t know what to call what I want, romantic relationships for me must meet four important criteria:

1) Fun
2) Comfortable
3) Loving*
4) Not Possessive

And boy oh boy, have I ever taken flak for this. I have met some lovely, yet jaded women who see me as what is wrong with the dating world. Basically a guy who doesn’t want to make a commitment, and who wants to perpetually date or hang out. And for these viewpoints I have some sympathy, but only to a point, because I am not against commitment, or as I phrase it, making an investment in someone. However, I don’t want said commitment to preclude a beautiful experience with someone else.

If you’re fine and you won’t front, I don’t wanna be your man but I’ll hook ya up.”
-Coolio (NOT 2-Pac), Rollin’ With My Homies

The problem to me ultimately comes down to scarcity and abundance. Perhaps as a result of our competitive, scarcity-based socio-economic market system, people often go into the world of dating with a scarcity mind-set, worried that they can’t give away too much of what they have (vagina, money, etc.) without getting a commensurate amount in return. And, if you are in a relationship with that person, you are expected not to give too freely of what you have as they have proprietary rights to your sexuality,flirtatious overtures and even money.
Fuck that noise! I’m operating with an abundance mindset and what I have to offer to romantic partners I have in infinite supply (not money lol) so why would I (or they) share that beauty with only one person? That external restriction/ownership/scarcity mentality has fucked up everything else in the world, are we really gonna let it poison relationships?
Well yes apparently, as I have recently found out lol.
Another fairly major change between me now and last time I was single, is that I am not interested in hooking-up (sex) just to say I did or to get “my number” up. Mostly I don’t like the feeling of emptiness I’ve been left with during past one-nighters, but a big part of this is number 2 on my criteria list: Comfort. If there isn’t comfort as a result of familiarity not only will it not be enjoyable, but more often than not I will have trouble performing (as certain ladies reading this might be able to attest to :-S). So I am very up front and honest with people at the outset about what my priorities and desires are because I don’t want a relationship predicated on a lie. Someone will be unfulfilled, hurt or both.

Honesty (Specific)

On the topic of being up front and honest with people is also not being ashamed of particular desires. If there’s a certain way you like to fuck, that you might have grown accustomed to, but that might be a little outside the realm of normative sexuality (as if there is such a thing) bringing it up to a new partner can bring some anxiety. Rather than getting into the best way to bring things up in the bedroom (or my own personal tried and true method of bringing kinks up lol) I will just say that I have learned to be just as open and up front about these predilections and desires as I am about my broader relationship objectives. Life is, after all, too short for mediocre sex.

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Pretty much this exactly…

Work Ethic

I don’t really love using the word “work” in relation to dating and relationships but it takes discipline to put yourself out there and in my experience “out there” is where the adventures happen. For example, when I found myself single I began to challenge myself to cold-approach at least one girl a day. For those not in the know, a “cold approach” would be chatting up a random girl in public. It’s a hard sell, especially with the feminist backlash against cat-callers and other harassers, but overall I find that approaching earnestly and honestly perhaps segue-ing into it after making conversation is a safe bet. I often (okay, usually) won’t get a number, but I have yet to be accused of patriarchal oppression. #GreatJob!
I have a few other things to say about cold approaches so bear with me:
Like many men in the early to mid 2000s, I read Neil Strauss’ book, The Game and was captivated by it. Having read it before a planned backpacking excursion to Australia, I joined the Mystery Method forum which the book told of (now The Attraction Forums) and put up an open ad saying that I was a Canadian sarger (or pick-up artist) traveling all around Australia and I wanted to work with different members in different cities. And WORK we did. We hit the bars hard and challenged to ourselves to chat up every group we could. It was scary. But then something happened; it stopped being scary. By getting over approach-anxiety I was able to have more natural, less contrived conversations with women which I can only imagine they appreciated more than some nervous guy stuttering some canned opener. Sure, every night we needed to warm up and the first few “sets” as we affectionately called them were always a crapshoot, but by and large we ended up talking to many gorgeous and wonderful women who might otherwise have been too intimidating to approach. Simply put, we spent so much time outside of our comfort zones that they grew to accommodate us (our comfort zones, that is). To get back to my point in a roundabout way, I am in the process of getting back to that serene place where I can approach any woman regardless of my insecurities (of which there are many) or her physical beauty or social standing. If you think about it, those latter two things are really superficial and stand as an impediment to genuine and meaningful human relations, so training myself to disregard them is actually a service to humanity.
And yes, to answer your next question, I do in fact, believe all my bullshit. 😀
The other thing I wanted to say about cold-approaching is that I have often brought it up when speaking with other actors, making the point that it is analogous to auditioning; The more you do it the less anxious you are, the less anxious you are, the more you put the casting directors at ease and everybody is happy. And in both auditions and cold-approaches sometimes you can do everything right and still not get the role or the phone number. Maybe they wanted a different look or she had a boyfriend and maintains a steadfast devotion to monogamy beyond the point of reason. Who knows!? It happens, but you can still learn from these experiences and walk away with a satisfaction that you only get from laying yourself bare and truly connecting with someone.

Age May Be Nothing But a Number, But it’s An Important Number

A peculiar thing happens when you chat up girls on the street and not just in bars. You see, the real world has no bouncer making sure everyone is of age, so very often you find yourself talking to someone who is “south of proper” with regard to age. I don’t know if its a really uncomfortable rite of passage or what, but you will never forget the first time you find yourself talking with a girl and upon some romantic/suggestive word from you, she reveals that she is underage. All you can really do is smile and eject from the situation. In fact, it would be really handy occasion to have a smoke pellet to facilitate escape.

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NINJA, VANISH!

I don’t know what it is, but this shit never happened to me until I started approaching 30 and it got especially creepy. I will say two final things about this: 1) the reality that you could chat up a girl who is criminally underage creates an imperative that you approach women respectfully and perhaps not be too forward at the outset. Not only is it more tactful but you might avoid committing a crime, and 2) Always know the age of consent.

Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number: Part II + Avoiding the Hatred Pitfall
But here we got off on a tear about jailbait when there are actually much more sublime implications to age as it pertains to relationships. Like, for example, the difference between a girl who is 20 and a girl who is 28. By and large I find the latter much more receptive to my particular brand of honest, sincere and deliberate intention. And, old maid anxiety notwithstanding, older women are usually more comfortable about exploring relationships outside the conditioned norms. On the other hand, younger girls frustrate the shit out of me. Remember at the beginning of this post where I said I wanted to approach dating in a mature and respectful way? Well, some motherfuckers aren’t gonna respect you unless you’re an asshole to them. Or they flake out on you if you make yourself too available. The shit can be infuriating. I know I should probably avoid people who force me to use artifice and cunning in the pursuit of them, but what can I say, sometimes my dick is in the driver’s seat and doesn’t want to stop at the gas station and ask my brain (or heart) for directions. However, I’ve been pretty successful at not hating these people, although I think it’s an easy trap to fall into. I think every guy reading this has had a revenge-fuck fantasy about some girl who snubbed him and that’s not really the route I wanna go, tempting though it may be. I wanna deal squarely with everyone, hard as that may be sometimes.
One thing I find works for me is always blaming myself for the success or failure of any interaction. At the end of the day I can only affect my own behaviour after all, so if a girl isn’t feeling me I evaluate how I could alter my approach for next time. It doesn’t matter that she may be nuttier than squirrel shit and an all-around unpleasant harpy who delights in the misery of men, that’s her business. My business is what it has always been: dealing with her and everyone else more lovingly and meaningfully. As soon as you take responsibility for the outcome of every interaction you have, you make it very difficult to hate other people because you’re constantly asking yourself what you could have done better, not “why are they so FUCKED?!”

Murkiness vs. Full Disclosure

Guys, have you ever asked a girl out expecting that she knew it was a date? You go out and get along swimmingly, you may even pay for everything to sweeten the deal and then she tells you she has a boyfriend, or doesn’t invite you in, etc.? Of course, we’ve all been here, and its even worse when you try and take it to that romantic level and it makes her uncomfortable and the rest of the time together becomes shitty and awkward. Let a girl know ahead of time where you stand even if it means risking “the friendship” because if you don’t you’re basically living a lie and putting unfair pressure on her. What are we really afraid of? When I think of every girl I’ve been friends with but also attracted to, not one of those friendships was too precious to subject to the light of truth and my actual intentions, and I regret past instances where I wasn’t forthright when I should have been.
Bottom line: if you are going to meet up with a girl and you have any doubt that she knows for sure its a date, let her know. You will save yourself approximately a metric shitload of heartache and you’re doing her a service as well because it lets her better plan which underwear to wear and whether to shave or not 😉

The Company Ink

Just kidding! there’s only company ink if you have an actual job. I on the other hand am an actor, or a freelancer if I wanna sound marginally more respectable. That said, I have probably fallen in love with at least 90% of my female co-stars and a goodly number of the crew members as well. I can’t help it! They’re fucking hot! And like me, they’re driven and aspire to something greater than the slow death of an ordinary life. What’s not to love? The people I work with on set are, by and large some of the most inspiring people I have ever met as they reflect back to me all of the things I like best about myself.
Buuuuuut, people talk and nobody wants to get the rep as that sleazy guy who hits on everyone on set. That’s not to say don’t hook up, but I’m not sure what my particular line is or if I even draw a line. On some level I am a creature of opportunity, and if some hot starlet was feeling me and was “bout it, bout it” I might find it difficult to focus on maintaining my reputation, such as it is.
*Note to female co-stars, past, present and future: I’m probably “into” you and would be amenable to getting to you know you better.

Moving Forward

Things are going okay I guess. But I’m realizing something very profound: these types of relationships I’m pursuing are not static. That is to say you don’t just have a couple of relationships that more or less take care of and maintain themselves. Instead, things are in a constant state of flux, and you’re only “with” someone when you’re with someone.

“Ma, our time together is our time together, and our time apart is our time apart.”
-Jay-Z, Girls, Girls, Girls (Remix)

It’s good in a lot of regards. It creates an imperative to “stay sexy,” and you don’t get bored of and stuck with people. Most importantly, its a constant reminder that life, like your relationships is in a constant state of flux, and the illusion of permanence is just that. So don’t hold onto things and people that no longer serve you. Instead, move forward righteously in the pursuit of beautiful experiences.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

*I am very loosey-goosey with my use of the word love. That’s not to say I use it in vain; in fact, I am very deliberate in my use of it but I recognize that it comes into play in more than just familial and long-term monogamous relationships. I think you have to love everyone and on some level I do, even a girl I just met. And if me and someone else can’t be loving to each other, even from the outset then we really got no business being with each other.

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One Night as an Illegal Alien

Friends,

This past weekend, Toronto hosted World Pride 2014 and good times were had by all (except for the drunk, gay couple yelling at each other on Church & Gerrard on Sunday night). If you fancied yourself too cool for a free street festival/concert with nudity and instead had money just burning a hole in your pocket however, you might have instead attended BUD LIGHT DIGITAL DREAMS, as I did on Saturday.
Now I don’t want to badmouth the event; there were some  impressive stages and great music. However, shit got derailed before you even entered the venue by virtue of the arduous set of hoops to jump through that was the admissions process. In brief, if you purchased a ticket online, you had to print off a confirmation which you then had to show at one booth in order to get your ticket, which you then had to take to another booth to get your BRACELET, which carried with it admission privileges and concession stand access.
Foolishly thinking that the $100+ we paid for our tickets* went in part to ensure a smooth, well-oiled in-clearance, we showed up at 5pm expecting to pick up our tickets within a half hour and go from there.
Two hours later and we had moved a few feet.
It was at this point that my friend, Shane suggested I go take a break from the line-up, which I did. I walked for a bit along some eight-foot high fences until I came to a park and laid under a tree planning my next move. Nothing came to me, and it occurred to me that with Shane’s phone dying and me being gone for so long I should probably get back tot he line-up lest they make it in without me.
But I saw a curious thing as walked back along the eight-foot fences: a stretch of about 100m with no security or police officers patrolling it. Then another curious-er thing: drunk people with only the most rudimentary of climbing skill hopping the fence.
Well, I wasn’t drunk and I climb regularly so I really had no excuse not to hop the fence (I had paid money for a ticket after all). So I found myself being put to a decision for all my chips: I either balked and shambled regretfully back to my spot in line to wait with all the other human livestock or risk getting arrested at 29 for sneaking into an all-ages (well 16+ anyhow) concert.
I think we know what choice I made:

photo (2)
Happy like a Mexican who just evaded border patrol!

Shit was Iiiight!! Sure, I was a little bummed out that Shane was still waiting in line but we’re good enough buddies that I knew he wouldn’t begrudge me for doing something wacky and irrational; I learned that from him after all.
Now I was set: I had two bottles of water in my cargoes (ALWAYS…WEAR…CARGOES), one remaining “party favour” and enough money to get me by at any concert…OH SHIT!; I didn’t have a bracelet. 100 bucks in my wallet and I couldn’t spend a dime of it, except perhaps in the black market (drugs). For to engage vendors without a bracelet, would be like trying to engage an employer without a SIN/SSN: Best case scenario they tell you to fuck off; worst-case scenario that call the authorities on you.
And what of the authorities? Well, failure to present a bracelet in that microcosm of society would be akin to not presenting any ID or proof of citizenship in the real world. Incarceration and/or deportation (ejection from the venue). Hell, even an injury that sent me to the paramedics would get me ID’d as an illegal and I would face the long dick of justice after my recovery.
So I did what any stateless/illegal alien would do: Kept my hands in my pockets and did my dirt on the DL.
After an initial two hours of fighting my way to the front of the mainstage I got a hankering to look for my brother who was managing the Bacardi tent. And while I never found that dude, it did give me cause to explore the grounds. During my exploration, I distinctly remember my heart skipping a beat when I saw choke-point where people en route to other parts of the venue were getting a little congested. Whence cometh this heart-skippery? Well, it occurred to me that much like the draconian mobility restrictions placed on Chinese and Soviet people in the past, the authorities might be checking bracelets before allowing access to other areas.
Thankfully that wasn’t the case, and neither my mobility nor my access to water was hampered due to plentiful hydration stations which had no bracelet checks either.
At my most jaded point in the evening it occurred to me that, short of waiting in line till my balls fell past my knees, all of my citizenship bracelet problems could simply be solved with lots of money; whether that meant bribing vendors to look the other way or going through official routes, like for example leaving the venue and spending egregious amounts for a VIP pass which would allow me to bypass the line-up at customs the admissions tent. Is that an overly cynical perspective? Maybe, but I’ll refer you to the homie Shawn Carter, for an interesting perspective on the matter:

“Everything’s for sale,
I got five passports; I’m never goin to jail.”
-Jay-Z, Otis

The reality is that money solves most problems** and since anyone can, in theory, get enough money to solve all of their worldly problems, everyone should do so. But here’s the problem:

Anyone =/= Everyone

Unless you’re one of the monied few like Jigga, you’re often S.O.L. when it comes to quick and expedient access to goods, accommodations and as I found out this Saturday, a bit of Earth to shake my ass on.
I’ll leave you with a final thought: Have you ever trespassed or been somewhere you weren’t supposed to be doing something you weren’t supposed to do? It was exciting wasn’t it? That excitement wears off however, when the care you must take not to get discovered interferes with your day-to-day life. Sadly, this is the predicament of what I conservatively estimate to be millions of people on the planet who are forced to live an illicit life because someone or some agency has presumed to tell them that they could not be somewhere that they desired to be anyway.
We really need to reflect on our sad tendency to deny poor people’s*** access to parts of our planet that are, in reality part of our shared heritage as human beings.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

*We paid $140 for one-day passes on Kijiji at the last minute
**It is actually people who solve most problems, but most of them “hop for cash, bitch!” (sic.)
***We’re all “poor” people on some level=> “You ain’t never rich in this world.” –It’s Dark and Hell is Hot, DMX

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Privilege & Mystification

Friends,

Of late I have noticed a disturbing trend in discussions where parties invoke privilege as a trump card which has the power to nullify the arguments of any person who doesn’t meet a certain criteria of disenfranchised pedigree.

“Here we go, another bitter men’s rights/white rights advocate.”

Sure, if you want to look at things reductively like that then so be it, but know that you are part of the problem I am trying to draw attention to.

The premise of privilege is that the straight, white, non-handicapped male…

ronald-reagan
Pictured Here

…is the most heard from, listened to, demographic in the Western World and as such, he should shut up and give everyone else a chance to talk. Failing that, he should at least say things that don’t exacerbate the disenfranchisement of various minorities. At face value, this seems like an appreciably good idea; certainly I know a lot of people, many of whom are straight/white/male, who say shit that is limited by their own experiential biases and who don’t really try and empathize with those outside of their demographic. Could these people benefit from saying a little less? Well, yes of course, as much as anyone could, but I guess I’m dissatisfied with how this idea of privilege manifests on the back end.

You see by definition it takes someone without privilege or with less privilege to arbitrate what those with (more) privilege are tastefully allowed to say (because someone with privilege couldn’t possibly empathize with a fellow human being). And since the arbiters of what is PC/appropriate/sensitive are fallible human beings as well, there is far too much temptation to abuse the trump card that is privilege and thus void all the arguments of the person they are engaging with, no matter how logical those arguments, on the grounds of artificial constructs. This allows people to hold on to ideas past the point of reason simply because challenging said ideas becomes unpopular. It’s like an unlimited credit card for an intellectual materialist and frankly, it’s a little disingenuous.

Also, there is an explicit element of mystification in how I have seen the concept of privilege handled. Since as a straight, white, male (an identity which for the record I try to avoid claiming for myself because it separates me from other human beings) I simply “don’t get it,” and thus I am forced to rely on a priest-caste of “less-privileged” groups to reveal some arcane truth to me like in one of the great mystery religions. But like a Scientologist who has shelled out thousands of dollars and spent years of his life in study only to finally have the anti-climactic gospel (ALEINS! [sic.]) revealed to him, the truth is simple. Disappointingly so.

As a student of history (like, as in an actual degree holder…which is great in case I ever run out of TP), not only do I not deny atrocities and hardships faced by women, non-whites, etc. but I also try and view them in a broader sense as outgrowths of various socio-economic systems which were conducive to violence. And what was the common denominator in all socio-economic systems which predated our own? Scarcity, or at least the ever-present looming threat of it.  Shit son, you don’t even gotta have an edumucation to see that; we have no record of a time when there was ever a universal, perpetual abundance for all. And in the current socio-economic model is it really so different? I’m not really a statistics guy, but its something like a billion people don’t have access to clean water and 3.5 billion (or half the world’s pop.) is living in poverty. So yeah, scarcity is still alive and kicking.

But what does economics have to do with privilege? Well, as I have maintained in the past, racial, sexual and gender and differences serve as convenient dotted lines to cut along when you want to divide people and consolidate power by creating an “other” to unite against in conditions of scarcity. Power consolidation, which is a required aspect of the gaming strategy integral to surviving in the competitive economy which rose up in conditions of scarcity, underlies all so-called “atrocities” which have been since painted with a thick veneer or racism, sexism, jingoism and others.

“War is merely the continuation of politics by other means”
-Carl von Clausewitz

“Politics is merely the continuation of economics by other means.”
-Michael C. Ruppert

And herein lies my biggest problem with the concept of privilege; in no way does it address the structural mechanisms which cause and exacerbate the historical violence which has been done to under-privileged groups. Rather, the privilege argument assumes scarcity as a pre-condition of existence and simply demands more for the historically maligned which necessarily equates to less for the historical “maligners.” An apt metaphor would be fighting for more scraps from the table rather than trying to create a seat at the table for all.

And I’m not even gonna get into the fact that in Eastern Europe, Russia and the United States, there are straight white males, ostensibly members of the privileged class, who are either starving or food insecure. We clearly need a solution which is inclusive of all people, rather than just assumes, “hey you look like an oppressor so surely you must be doing ok.”

Of course there is a caveat to what I am saying, and it is those situations where gender, race & sexuality expertise is completely valid. Example, this May I will be portraying a gay male drag queen in a web series. Great! I hope I yield a performance which the gay drag community approves of. But what the actual fuck do I know about being a drag queen? Not a damn thing. So I will be looking to find a drag queen to hang out with, and study from prior to the shoot. I acknowledge that this gay male drag queen is probably expert on the topic of being a drag queen, but I don’t think he will necessarily be more or less expert than me on the human experience based simply on his historically under-privileged sexuality. Nor will he, by virtue of the fact that he likes men and dresses like women have a grasp of the structural causes of violence inherent in our socio-economic system unless he has devoted some thought and study to it.

However, by hanging out with him a curious thing might happen: empathy.

MIND = BLOWN

Sure he’s just a hypothetical drag queen now and as such pretty hard to relate to, but as I get to know him a little better I’ll see commonality and similarity I never saw before and see him as more like me than a cursory, superficial glance might have indicated. Any constructed line drawn between his gayness and my straightness would dissolve and be seen for what it always was; an artificial boundary.

Enter privilege.

The privilege argument seeks to formalize boundaries and identities which only serve to obfuscate the truth about how similar we all are. By accepting identification as a member of a disenfranchised group, an individual accepts ownership of resentment and the honor neurosis, and is primed to become indignant due to perceived offences from those not identifiable as part of THEIR tribe.

“The things you own end up owning you.”  -Tyler Durden, Fight Club

To me it’s simple: relinquish ownership of cultural, racial, and gender legacies which carry with them resentment that you don’t need in your life. It’s baggage you don’t need, like the hoarders on the reality tripe I don’t watch. If you must identify, choose an identity that is inclusive of all peoples. Personally, I opt to identify as a human being,** but certainly there are other identifiers which would function just as adequately.

Ultimately, it’s the othering we need to get away from; the othering that makes us clamor for retributive punishment for a transgressor, the othering that makes us cheer when we hear a “bad guy” got killed, the othering that makes brother kill brother in a civil war. Guess what?; they’re ALL ‘CIVIL’ WARS.

To be clear, I don’t deny that certain segments of the population have had a harder go at life than others, but I can’t co-sign issuing redress along the same bigoted lines that were used as avenues of disenfranchisement. Maybe that’s my privilege talking, but the handy thing my privilege has afforded me is that I don’t see any groups as my enemy. Rather we’re all brothers and sisters, human beings, living souls.

Let’s start acting like it.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

*As a rule, I am against sensitivity and other people’s threshold for being offended being the limiter of what can be said.
Obviously this isn’t a license to be a complete dick and say things simply to offend, but if there is a point to be made, make it. Just be willing to stand by it and defend it, remaining open to the possibility that you might have to recant, modify or alter that point if new evidence is presented.

**I realize that this identification will prove to be limited once the ALEINS make first contact. Also, the film, Earthlings makes a compelling case for why identifying as a human being even at this point in time might be a little reductive, given all the different forms of life on this planet.

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