Volume Nine: Nostalgia

Posted on 05/27/2009

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As we continue to traverse this “digital” or “information” age, I find it increasingly difficult to find things that I enjoy. Yes, there are football and baseball games to attend. And, any time I can put together five hours of free daytime, you might find me on a golf course somewhere. But I’m talking about the little things in life that we took for granted when we enjoyed them, and take for granted now – especially since we can no longer enjoy them. Life was simpler back-in-the-day. The irony in that statement is I cringed whenever I heard that from my parents while growing up; and yet, I find myself repeating it more and more as I age mature ripen. So, I’ve compiled a list of things that I enjoyed during my formative years that either don’t exist, we can’t do, or have become all together extinct in today’s “digitally informative” era.

Whatever happened to…

1) Going “Outside” – Remember when this used to be an activitiy by itself? There was no need for organized games or some time-limited activity sponsored by an organization. During summer break, my mother used to just open the door and say, “Go outside,” and we went without question, spent hours doing nothing specific at all, then came home at an appropriate time.  Going outside has been ruined by child predators and television telling us that children must be entertained at all times in order for them to behave. I feared what would happen to me if my mother found out I was misbehaving too much to do anything overtly stupid or dangerous. Punk-ass parents and the proliferation of predators have ruined the tradition of going outside. (Refer to Volume Five: Please Help the Children of my previous posts to understand punk-ass parents.)

2) Variety in Rap Lyrics – Can I ask a question? If I’m a fan of hip-hop/rap, and I don’t matriculate the club (dance, night, strip, or otherwise) what non-satellite radio station can I listen to? And I’m not a hater (or, is it player hater? – but I’m digressing). I appreciate a good strip club song as much as the next man. I appreciate the bravado displayed in some songs – as long as it’s cleverly done and has a good beat. Ho-ever, is this what a beautiful genre of music has been reduced to? Biggie said, “Bankrolls, ho’s and clothes – all a n—a knows.” T.I. said, “Money, ho’s, cars and clothes. That’s what all my n—as know.” Is it really? What happened to a playlist that included N.W.A. and P.E. (Public Enemy)? Can’t Poor Righteous Teachers occupy the same space as Bone Thugs In Harmony? Can Common and The Roots get some play between Soulja Boy (Tell ‘Em) and Lil Wayne? Am I asking too much? Are we applying math incorrectly in this case? I mean, the least common denominator is not always the best; and it seems that is what rap music today is tailored to. Like Chuck D said, “I rebel with a raised fist. Can I get a witness?”

3) Black Musicians/Bands – OMG! Puffy has made millions off a show called Making the Band and yet, not one of his “bands” played music. Most R&B artists today know more about a mixer and mic than about reading music or playing an instrument. American Idol judges chastise contestants at times for “hiding” behind their instrument of choice. Whaaaaat? The Godfather of Love, Barry White, had an orchestra behind him! Earth, Wind, and Fire had more people on stage than Hammer. Parliament Funkadelic, Sly Stone, LTD, The Gap Band – the list goes on and on. All of these groups had musicians. Black musicians! They were gainfully employed in the music industry without having to be the star. Now, it seems that if you play, you’d better be able to “do it all”. The word band in Black vernacular has become so marginalized in R&B that, more often than not, I’m referring to a college marching band when I use it. Mint Condition. Where are you?

4) Competition in Youth Sports – I may be stepping in it with this one but, I don’t care. Why-in-THE-hell does everyone have to get a trophy? If everyone gets one, what’s the incentive for working harder to improve? Don’t you want your child to set a goal and work to achieve that goal? Are we the only society that rewards mediocracy or losing? Everyone can’t be first. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be called first. If children learn to process losing/disappointment at an early age, then they will become more stable adults that can adjust to life’s ups and downs better. Winning a trophy is great. I love all the trophies I’ve won in my life. I love them even more now. Why? Because I know I earned every one.

5) Regular People – Have you noticed that whenever you see Black folks these days that they look like they just stepped out of a video? It may have been a bad video, but still, a video nonetheless. On the one hand, I appreciate brothers getting their suit game tight with daring tie/pocket square combinations; but, would you make sure it’s an appropriate occasion to wear it? And I know jeans are costing more and becoming more acceptable in varying locations; at the same time, how about a little variety in your wardrobe? Chinos are ok. Golf shirts are ok. Regular, solid colored t-shirts are ok. White tennis shoes are ok. It’s ok to be regular! We don’t always have to look like we stepped off the pages of InStyle or GQ. I, for one, am going back to being a regular person. Maybe I’ll stand out more by doing that?

The above list is, by no means, exhaustive. Please feel free to (and I encourge you to) add comments about this list or to add your own. I am a believer in progress and realize that times change. I just don’t want us to change to the point that we lose touch with what makes us a real person. If we continue to marginalize ourselves and our experiences, we cannot complain when it is done by the majority. Stay true to yourself and what makes you you.

That’s just my three cents…

sill-E

“Peep my ver-na-cular cuz I don’t know how to act…”

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Posted in: Humor, Pop Culture