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“Where We’re Going We Don’t Need Bridges…”

Friends,

A lot of you didn’t know me back in 2012. It was a rough year for me and something of an awakening process. I was becoming aware of just how profoundly screwed up society is at a fundamental level, predicated as it is on the maintenance of artificial and unnecessary scarcity to maintain high levels of profit and a dependent, compliant workforce….but I digress. The upshot was that I was very argumentative both IRL and OL.

It was bad.

The benefit of such dissatisfaction is that it spurred my creativity and caused me to blog quite prolifically, albeit angrily, and I was never at a loss for what to rant about.

Fast forward four years and I am a much happier dude. My convictions haven’t changed, but I realize that rather than smashing my face against the keyboard to spur along the change I want to see, it’s better for me to become a living example of what I’d like to see. As such, I never get into heated arguments in-person anymore and only occasionally online, and even in those latter cases I am not so emotionally invested because I realize that if either party is saying anything truthful it will sink in and take root over time. Trying to FORCE someone to see your POV is like screaming at a seedling to make it grow faster.

******

So why this pre-amble? Well, a few weeks ago I had a cathartic relapse which even now, a month and a half later with a clear head, I struggle to feel remorse for. A (former) friend and colleague of mine went on a militant SJW rant basically declaring war on anyone who made off-color comments around her. I find such righteous indignation and vitriol on behalf of ostensibly progressive ideals ironic and all-too-common. I suppose the basic underlying premise is that the best remedy for misanthropy in the world is a great big helping of misanthropy. Who the fuck knows?

In any event, I wish I’d screen-capped the whole conversation (FORESHADOWING ALERT: She deleted fucking everything and unfriended me, cause ya know, that’s how adults roll) cause it was a pretty terrific example of…well, something. Not sure. But I laughed.

It basically unfolded with me calmly and respectfully explaining that when I read her post it made me want to spout off some horrible shit for a laugh then have a solid eight hours of sleep while she racked her brain putting together a thousand word diatribe of hatred which I would ultimately never read. I softly suggested that she might sway more people with calm and sober discussion. Naturally I was accused of tone-policing, which I guess is a new buzzword which means “suggesting that people don’t scream at you like assholes.”

*******On a related note, I swore in front of my dad once when I was a kid and he “tone-policed” me upside the head. I think we really water down the meaning of the word when we apply it all willy-nilly like she did, but I digress because as an adult who knows how to speak to people respectfully I have little chance of people telling me to modulate my tone so I really don’t have a vested stake in what constitutes tone-policing.

In any event, my gentle suggestions must have smelled like blood in the water to the lurking wolves…sharks….w/e, and they pounced. All of a sudden they were lighting me up left, right and center for being against the cause of human progress (I guess), telling me I had no right to tell aggrieved groups how they should talk, and jumping to my former friend’s defense, a defense which for the record was wholly unnecessary because up that point I had been nothing but civil.

Here’s where I made my only mistake: I remained calm and explained respectfully that I hadn’t told anybody what they had to do, only how they could more effectively reach me, and I suspect, many others. This was only perceived as further weakness and I was roasted for my level-headedness. I decided to just pull out of the conversation and let jackasses be jackasses. Even this was seen weakness:

Male SJW: “Oh what? No response? Is that cause a straight white male chimed in or because I’m right? Or are those two things the same to you?”

Me: “Actually its because I’m jerking off to pictures of the holocaust so can you fuck off while I get this nut?”

The beauty of this line was that they immediately realized that I no longer gave a fuck how I was perceived by them.

Me: “Oh what, no response? Is it because you have a problem with the extermination of millions or because you have a problem with the sexual gratification of a straight, white male? Or are those two things the same to you.”

You ever watch an MMA fight and one fighter gets punched square in the jaw and for the rest of the fight he’s just clinging to consciousness trying not to get hit instead of hitting? It was like that, and I’m not ashamed to say that I relished seeing these paper tigers fold. I had even endured so much abuse up to that point that I was like, “Fuck it; I’ll double down!”

Me: “Male SJW I bet you’re the kind of guy who apologizes to a girl after having sex with her. You fucking cuck!” (lol, “cuck” is one of my new favourite words)

Female SJW (Friend of OP): “I bet Male SJW only apologizes to women he has sex with for making them come too much.” (I wish I made this up but the twat actually said this. I don’t think I could cringe harder if my mom walked in on me masturbating and offered to help).

Me: “Relax Male SJW; just cause she’s jumping to your defense to show solidarity doesn’t mean she’s interested in sleeping with you.”

I don’t remember much of the details beyond these lines, but I remember how I felt when I decided that I didn’t care what these people thought of me. I felt FREE. I felt POWERFUL. And I felt UNENCUMBERED.

For the record I don’t advocate aggression for its own sake but when you are dealing with people of low-intelligence they won’t respect you unless you display some. Thankfully, I deal mostly with people of higher intelligence so I very often feel like my life is similar to floating on a cloud made of whimsy and good humor. But every once in a while a dumb motherfucker doesn’t appreciate such good-natured detachment and so I gotta flex nuts. C’est la vie. And I’m not even saying that these people are low-intelligence in any absolute terms, I’m simply saying that within the context and circumstances we conversed in they bore all the earmarks and behaviours of low-intelligence bullies and so I had to treat them like the retards they were being in order to shut them up.

But what does this whole encounter point to more broadly? Well, I wanna not give a fuck and I am actively working toward that level of serenity and enlightenment. It’s something of a process but I feel I am making good progress. The last four months of traveling have actually been very good for me in that regard because removed from the toxic, politically correct climate of where I live, I have been able to find my own voice and speak more freely with less care of repercussions. As well, coming into my own as a film-maker is helpful because not only does it allow me to tell the stories I want to tell, it also makes me less dependent upon others for work than I was when solely an actor. Let’s face it, actors though they may have the coveted autonomy of a self-employed contractor, are still dependent upon others for work, and these others may have feelings and get offended by realness.

Ultimately though, I don’t want to box myself in, whether career-wise or life-wise. I look back on old posts from like 2008 and cringe at the dumb, reckless shit I used to say but at the same time I smile at how little I gave a fuck. I wanna get back to that zero fucks level but this time be informed with the better taste and judgement I have accumulated over the subsequent years.

Some people may see this as a regression. Fuck them! Their path isn’t mine and what they eat doesn’t make me shit. I have attained a level of freedom, mobility and financial security that is the culmination of years of work, ongoing discipline and a reflection of righteous values. And the benchmark for how successful I am is how happy I am. So how happy am I?

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Note: “Shake ya Ass,” while a great tune is not actually on this playlist. I just happened to be listening to it causelike I said; great tune.
Note 2: I welcome suggestions for songs to add to this list.

That’s right: I actually have a whole playlist devoted to those times where I sit and reflect on how awesome life has been so far…UNHAPPY PEOPLE DON’T DO THAT!! So solipsistic as it may seem, that’s all I need to know to know that I am on a righteous path.

So in closing I am going to keep testing my own courage to say what’s on my mind and when someone calls me on it I am going to endeavour not to be fazed (I may even snap back) because my fear of other’s perceptions is and has been the great limiter and inhibitor of my adult life.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo
#justmightbeok @dreguan

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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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Top 6 “Fuck You; I’m Fly Now” Lyrics

Friends,

What’s the point of becoming rich & famous if you can’t rub it in the faces of everyone who ever bullied you, was mean to you, punked you or ignored you? Well, the following rappers seem to agree with that sentiment and gave these former tormentors a shout-out.
Here are some of my faves.

“Dear teacher, you’re probably somewhere near a speaker,
I’m ballin’ outta control, do you hear my sneakers?
FUCK Y’ALL!”
Artist: Jay-Z
Song: So Ambitious feat. Pharrell

“And any chick that didn’t blow Doc?
I NEVER KNEW YA!”
Artist: Redman
Song: Da Da DaHHH

“What’d you say your name was again?…and I know you from where?
Elementary School?
I DON’T KNOW YOU, MAAAANNN!
Money, not you again…go that way.
LOSER!”
Artist: Big Pun
Song: It’s So Hard

“I know something you don’t know, and I got something to tell ya:
You won’t believe how many people straight doubted the flow; most said that I was a failure.
But now the same motherfuckas askin’ me for dough,
And I’m yellin’, ‘I CAN’T HEAR YA!’
‘Yo, Nelly can we get tickets to your next show?’ -HELL NO
YOU FOR REAL?”
Artist: Nelly
Song: Ride Wit Me

“I was a freshman, in other words, a new jack!
When you mentioned Big L, brothas was like, ‘who’s that?’
Then I made a master plan, now I got a batch of fans,
So when you mention my name now, ‘OH THAT’S MY MAN!’ ‘
Artist: Big L
Song: School Days

“Yeah, this album is dedicated
To all the teachers that told me I’d never amount to nothing
To all the people that lived above the buildings that I was hustling in front of
That called the police on me
When I was just trying to make some money to feed my daughter
And all the niggas in the struggle
You know what I’m saying
It’s all good baby baby”
Artist: The Notorious B.I.G.
Song: Juicy

There are many others, perhaps enough to warrant a part 2 in the future, but that’s all for now.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

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Filed under entertainment, Hip-Hop, music, opinion, rap

My Top 9 Rap Lyrics

Friends,
This post has been a long time coming.  As something of a hip-hop fan I have latched onto many lyrics over the years which I feel neatly encapsulate my own experiences.  They don’t have to be standout lines, or famous rhymes, but they are the ones which make the listener feel like he and the artist are in on the same joke that nobody else gets.  Here are my proverbial inside jokes with a smattering of rappers.

***

“Aint no right or wrong in this game called survive”
Song: Keep Your Hands High ft. The Notorious B.I.G.
Arist: Tracey Lee

Tracey-Lee-black-enterprise

You might have missed this song when it came out.  More likely you are familiar with Jay-Z’s recycling of parts of it on his song “What More Can I Say?” from 2003’s The Black Album.  (Or, if you’re only the most casual of fans you likely heard T.I. sample from “What More Can I Say?” for his 2004 hit, “Bring ’em Out“)
In any event, the line dispels the notion of the duality of right & wrong, or more to the point, good and evil.  These qualities are powerful myths which serve as expedient yet detrimental explanations for human behaviour. They don’t paint a true picture of why people (criminals in this case) do things.  What Tray-Lee is really saying here is that people in the game don’t do dirt because they’re evil; they do it out of necessity.  All of that murder, exploitation, theft and corruption, it’s all a natural outgrowth of the struggle for survival.

***

“And God made dirt, so this dirt won’t hurt.”
Song: Shook Ones: Part One (by: Mobb Deep)
Artist: Prodigy

Prodigy-Mobb-Deep-Tattoo-psd21618

Obviously this is closely related to the last entry but it deserves mention because of the almost throw-away manner in which it is uttered. It’s a blink-and-you-miss-it type line which bears more truth than perhaps any other part of the song.  It also addresses the fallacy that certain behaviours are “unnatural” in any absolute sense; all behaviours are reinforced by the environment which the organism creates for itself.  It’s like Omar says in The Wire, “All in the game, yo…”

***

“We all gon’ die, we bleed through similar veins.”
Song: Thug Luv (by: Bone Thugz n’ Harmony)
Artist: 2-Pac

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2-Pac really spells out the unity and sameness of all human beings here in spite of the fact that he seems to be making a threat.  Still, there is profound existential awareness in his imagery; we all do, in fact, bleed through similar veins and if this shared mortality and vulnerability can’t bring us together, then what can?

***

“Ran through what we scared of; what was we afraid for?
Song: Awnaw (by: Nappy Roots)
Artist: Big V

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I love this line because it is a an expression of that feeling you get after going through adversity. It’s like, everything you haven’t done yet seems scary and impossible, while everything you have done seems not only do-able, but rather common and passe.  When it comes to the plausibility and possibility of any given endeavour, the biggest factor in determining your confidence is whether you have already done it or not.  That’s it.  So go out and do things. Then, doing more things will only seem more do-able.

***

“See things how they are, and not how you like ’em to be”
Song: Mistakes
Artist: Immortal Technique

filepicker-sTWoNkoJQCu9fbuaYhaS_immortal_technique

Who among us hasn’t told themselves a comforting lie at some point in their lives. I’ve been awake for five hours and I have probably already told myself ten.  But Tech is saying that wish-thinking, delusion, and all other forms of self-deception will only keep you in the invisible prison of ego because you are actually only lying to protect your ego.  The true self doesn’t need comfort, it doesn’t bruise and it wants the truth that will make the ego writhe and squirm.  Feed the ‘self’ with truth, and starve the ego of lies.

***

“Can I walk a righteous path holding a beer?”
Song: Resurrection (Large Pro Remix)
Artist: Common

common7

This is a big one for me. After all, I know there are things/vices I shouldn’t be doing as they serve as barriers for personal growth…but they’re so much fun.  Nobody seems more aware of this than Common, who, at this point in his career, was also probably puffing a blunt and grabbing an ass.  But does that mean he’s a bad dude?  Some would say ‘yes.’  I would say again what I said earlier, that good and bad are just myths. Still, every time I cloud my ability to think with a chemical I can’t help but think that perhaps I am mistreating my biological hardware.

***

“What you eat don’t make me shit.”
Song: Heart of the City (Ain’t No Love)
Artist: Jay-Z

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If you’ve ever worked in a job, a blue-collar one especially, you have probably had co-workers complain about how much/little work someone else is doing.  The irony is that their bitching is almost certainly taking up paid time that they should be using to work.  I get it if someone’s performance is directly making yours more difficult; definitely solve the problem at the lowest level possible without making too much of a stink about it.  However, live and let live; you don’t have to be the police for your co-workers, and by extension other human beings.  Don’t feel the need to expose someone who is getting to the same place you’re getting by taking a different route that isn’t hurting anyone. That’s hater bullshit.

***

“When I catch up to these fiends, Imma knock ’em on they ass.”
Song: Can I Live? II (by: Jay-Z)
Artist: Memphis Bleek

Memphis+Bleek

You gotta approach this world knowing (not thinking) that you’re already a star but that nobody knows it but you.  Bleek gets it, even if noone else does.  And while you could make the argument that he still hasn’t caught up with these “fiends” (read: mainstream superstardom) he is still certain that he would “knock them on their asses” (read: blow them away with his lyricism) if he did.  Prove him wrong!

***

“Too bad you couldn’t do good at marriage!”
Song: Renegades (by: Jay-Z)
Artist: Eminem

eminem1

Oh man, this song and this line specifically resonated with me like crazy when I was a teenager.  It seemed like my parents were only too willing to point out my shortcomings and failings when they were fucking up left, right and center.  Eminem cut through this bullshit in a way that struck a chord with white, teenage boys in step-families in the early 2000’s; we knew things were fucked up and that the idyllic veneer of perfection and tranquility that coated our suburban world was simply that, a veneer.  We saw the cracks, the flaws, the violence, and the fights behind closed doors, and then the smiles which were plastered over faces when there was company over.  We knew the truth and Em let us know we weren’t alone.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

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99 Problems

*Written early in the morning of Christmas Day 2011 in the Chongqing North train station whilst waiting for my train

My Friends,
   Anyone among you has ever done dirt with me (or hung out wth me for any appreciable amount of time) probably knows that “99 Problems” by Jay-Z is one of my favourite songs of all time.  The beat, the lyrics and the delivery combine into one dope package which never fails to pick me up. 
   I have often wondered though, “What are these fabled 99 problems which allegedly plague Jay-Z’s existence?”  Sure he gives some examples during the verses, and to his credit he does take those few examples and really run with them, painting vivid and nuanced pictures.  However, if only for the sake of the verifiability of the claim in the song’s title I have long thought he should have provided a numbered list of each specific problem (in the album cover perhaps for all of us true fans who bought it). 
   Since I can’t comment on what that man’s problems might be (prolly not being able to wear skinny jeans cause his “knots” don’t fit) I thought long and hard about what I could provide; namely, a similarly itemized list of my own prblems. 
   Now I must qualify this list before I kick it off: For starters, many entries are very introspective as I like to think my greatest strength is a realistic appreciation of my limitations and shortcomings.  Second, some of these things are problems which do not currently afflict me but which I try and remain constantly vigilant against.  Finally, as I wrote it while traveling, many of the problems may seem a little pecualiar and applicable only to someone living a similarly transient lifestyle.  However, I think even these entries have some applicability in everyday life (we all want a safe place to sleep even if we take it for granted)..
   So without any further ado:

If you havin’ girl problems I feel bad for you, son.  I got…

1) My Woman’s dog. A useless toy poodle named Lacy
2) Too little time in life
3) Too many options in life
4) Never enough money
5) Maintaining my street cred
6) On again/off again athlete’s foot
7) Turn the other cheek & feel like a bitch or fight and feel like an asshole
8) The shitty state of the world
9) Not seeing my family enough
10) Changing the mindset of those around me
11) My mother and her whole side of the family
12) Self-doubt
13) No career
14) Stolen rhyme-book
15) Negative self body-image
16) A certain constantly-evolving relationship in my life;  I never quite know where I stand in this one
17) Zipping my beard into my coat
18) No shower in over a week (as of Dec 24/11)
19) Getting Portuguese citizenship
20) Liquor
21) Pipe-smoking
22) My uncertain future in the military
23) Finding a decent place to shit
24) Keeping my feet warm
25) Remembering the words of my favourite songs
26) Suppressing feelings of superiority
27) Not behaving wretchedly when I feel wretched
28) Keeping my finger out of my nose in mixed company
29) B.O.
30) Speaking only English
31) Blank pages in my passport
32) Thinning hair
33) Mangled feet and toes from a lifetime of wearing traditional shoes
34) Naivete
35) Cynicism
36) Finding safe place to sleep
37) Losing my composure when I’m excited about something
38) Sentimentality/”hoarding” tendencies
39) Cops
40) Not being able to wash hands after dookie
41) A picture of my dick that may be floating around from Mardi Gras 2009 in New Orleans
42) Disdain for flaws in others which I see in myself
43) Crooked Jaw
44) My shitty Riddler tattoo
45) My right knee
46) Laziness
47) Restlessness in stable situations
48) Conspicuousness in foreign lands
49) No patience for differing points of view
50) Stubbornness
51) Incomplete private pilot’s license
52) Keeping my rhymes fresh
53) Internet porn
54) Making extraneous attempts to curry favour with those I view as gate-keepers
55) Short-sightedness (not literally, but in life)
56) Quick temper
57) Braggadociousness
58) Trying to make certain rituals/events too perfect (“The perfect is the enemy of the good”)
59) Thinking of new experiences (and life in general) in terms of what would make a good facebook status or profile pic
60) Judging those I care about particularly harshly
61) Over-complicating simple things
62) Relating every situation to a rap lyric (maybe not a problem in itself, but someone who’s upset prolly doesnt want to hear, “Well, it’s like 50 Cent once said…”)
63) Taking too much satisfaction in deconstructing and manipulating social situations
64) Wanting to be liked by everyone
65) Being variously too stingy and too generous
66) Jealousy/Hating
67) Lack of ambition
68) Losing touch with friends and those who have helped me along
69) Getting discouraged after a failed first attempt
70) Enjoying the companyof people who make me feel better about my life relative to theirs
71) Preaching at others about my beliefs (not religious)
72) Getting quickly bored after initial enthusiasm
73) Enjoying garbage television
74) Swearing too much
75) Being automatically resentful of authority
76) Insensitivity
77) Always playing devil’s advocate for the sake of arguing
78) Dwellling on the path not taken
79) Dwelling on past mistakes
80) The inability to receive praise or admiration gracefully
81) Not remembering the names of my extended family (unless they’re on facebook)
82) Waiting for my turn to speak in conversations
83) Letting my mind wander while ostensibly listening attentively
84) Being slow to swallow pride and apologize
85) Fitting oddly shaped objects (read: bottles of wine) into my carefully organized backpack
86) Lack of hiding places on my person for wads of money and passport
87) My travel sensibilities often take me to ghettoes
88) Overzealous third-world types who aggressively try to sell me their wares and/or swindle me
89) Curious foreign types (or “local” types as I’m in their country) who invade my personal space to get a closer look (Looking at you, Chinese people)
90) Blisters
91) Losing pens
92) Never knowing for sure what the meat/food substance in Chinese snack foods is when I buy them (sometimes even after I eat them)
93) Talking too fast
94) The constant work (twisting) that goes into maintaining an exquisite handlebar mustache
95) The gigantic balls of belly-button lint which accumulate when the only time you take your shirt off is for your (bi)weekly shower
96) Killing time at airports, train and bus stations before departure
97) Finding stores which sell English-language books
98) Countries with travel advisories (or who declare a “state of emergency” after I have already entered the country)
99) The ultimately self-destructive compulsion to engage in, as an adult, all the mischief and stupidity I did not partake in as a relatively well-behaved and rule-abiding child

…but a bitch ain’t one!

Stay Thirsty
-Andre Guantanamo

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Its my Party and I’ll be Apathetic if I Want to

My Friends,
   It’s my birthday tomorrow.  While I don’t necessarily dread being another year older, I find that I have a hard time getting excited about this milestone.  27 is not a particularly exciting birthday and I have thought back about how far I have come since I turned 26 and the answer was disappointing.  Not to say I have been slacking off the whole time; I did make some headway in this obstacle course called life:

-graduated with a B.A. in History (finally)
-got my firearm possession/acquisition license and my pistol
-was accepted into an M.A. program at Royal Military College
-made a lot of positive lifestyle changes => eating & exercise habits

Still, I can’t help but dwell on what I perceive as my inadequacies; the things I have yet to do or have not even come close to doing.  But I have a bad feeling that the things which I have yet to do may still not give me the satisfaction I crave.  It seems like I spend all my time in pursuit of various goals and once I achieve them they are not as fulfilling as I hoped they would be.  

Is this what success all about? A bunch of niggas actin like bitches with big mouths?
-Jay-Z

What do I think of success? It sucks; too much stress…
-Eminem

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems
-Biggie
While these quotations, pertaining to fame and fortune, don’t directly deal with my specific situation and achievements, they do convey a disillusionment that comes with success.  I can only imagine that the disillusionment is proportionate to the success in some way.  However, I don’t deceive myself into thinking that the rich are necessarily unhappy i.e. the old adage that “It is better to be poor and happy than rich and miserable.”  In fact, I am sure there are a great many happy, wealthy persons.  I think the problem is that a greater ability to purchase and consume has nothing to do with happiness, and a wealthy person trying to find happiness in material possessions is on a fool’s errand.  Conversely, someone who is poor does not necessarily have a better chance at happiness simply because they have been deprived the means to consume without limit.  They have other impediments to their contentment, like basic survival for example.
I’d rather be rich and unhappy than broke and miserable” 
-A far more apt dichotomy I should think

Apply this same line of reasoning to achievement and not wealth, and a similar pattern emerges.  If there was lasting happiness to be had in achievement, accomplished people would quit while they were ahead.  Instead, happiness is fleeting and must be constantly pursued.  It seems that the more you do in the pursuit of happiness/contentment/satisfaction, the more you need to do.
   And it gets no better for the unaccomplished (sic) either; prior to going to Afghanistan I sorely wanted to be one of those guys in my regiment who was idolized by the younger privates and corporals.  I felt very inadequate for not having done a tour of duty.  I couldn’t even conceive of how a term of service overseas could not be the be all and end all of my life.  Now I have been there and done that (thankfully unscathed) and I feel no different.  The adulation of teenage boys has done less for my self-esteem than you might think.  What I realized is: You don’t actually need any of your achievements, but you have to achieve them to realize how little you need them. (apologies if I have stated this before in a previous entry)
   So, armed with this hard-earned knowledge of how fleeting the satisfaction of achievement is, what do I intend to do? Why, “follow old Obi-Wan” as it were.
Translation: Go on “some damned-fool idealistic crusade”

I know that hitch-hiking around the world won’t bring me all of the happiness to be had in life.  In fact, the chances are very good that it may cause me some stress afterwards as I struggle to get my life back on track and deal with how the people I know have changed or moved on.  I worry that some opportunistic young soul may try to woo the woman I love while she is at her most vulnerable; missing my companionship.  I understand that I may miss births and deaths and I will feel sharp pangs of loneliness around holidays particularly.  I accept this because it is preferable to the alternative: dying slow, or what you might call day to day life.
   I’m starting to think happiness can go fuck itself.  Perhaps there is a benefit to my being perpetually dissatisfied, or at least a reason for it. (inb4: whiny bitch)  Dissatisfaction more than anything has accelerated what drives me.  If I was perpetually happy, well there would be no reason for me to leave the house would there?  So, with this in mind I am resolved to move forward in pursuit of this elusive jackalope called happiness.

This is Chad the jackalope; Happiness is his brother

And even if I don’t catch it, at least I have achieved something.

Stay Thirsty
-Andre Guantanamo

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