Tuesday, March 25, 2008

TGS Mega Installment: First Edition

Whatsup Syndicate,

I feel like it's been so long since I've walked on the blog side of TGS and because I have been distracted and somewhat neglectful I've decided to create a mega installment {guilt is a hell of a motivator}. About twice the cool stuff, twice the great information, twice the trivial crap (it's a gift) and twice the dose of my "in your face, witty, sarcastic, incredibly insightful and modest" repertoire.

The subjects of the mega installment are literally too numerous to type in the title bar of Blogger so here's a rundown of what you can find in this installment of The Genius Syndicate:

  1. StartUp New Orleans
  2. Beautiful Wife: Marital Bliss/ Ugly Husband: Lucky Bastard
  3. Why I Like: Estelle
  4. Signs to Quit Your Gig
  5. The Beauty of Stimulation
  6. Def Jam's Secret to Success
  7. Polarizing Brilliance of The Boondocks' Banned Episodes

There you have it, a big heaping helping of TGS for you to sink your teeth into. So dig in.


Start Up New Orleans

While in grad school {VCU Brandcenter} I worked with a group of friends {actually we were forced-- just joking-- nah really} to re-brand the city of Richmond, VA. That particular assignment had me ready to leave that school but by the end of the project we developed a powerful campaign that was about creating a dialogue between citizens and showcasing the city as a progressive and cultural destination. Too bad it didn't get picked up.

More recently my day job was re-branding the United States Virgin Islands. It sounds cool but when you look around at the competition and realize they offer the same damn things your brand does you respect the fact that creating a branded destination is a task that demands solutions to be strategic as well as creative and authentic. Branding any existing product is a challenge within itself but branding an actual place brings its own set of challenges to the table and I think no other U.S city has realized this more so than New Orleans.

Over two years after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, New Orleans is slowly rebuilding itself {no thanks to vast amounts of crime and FEMA sickening people with poisonous trailers} as a new entrepreneurial hub of the south. Start Up New Orleans is a website created to exhibit the transformation New Orleans is making into an entrepreneur and creative breeding ground in order to draw new businesses and citizens into the city. Start Up New Orleans' co-founder, Sean Cummings, is passionate about repositioning New Orleans as the new entrepreneur's dream city and it seems to be working.

"Idea Village, a New Orleans nonprofit dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship, has received 1,015 applications for grants, loans, or non-financial assistance since the storm. All but 2% or 3% came from existing businesses until this year, according to Tim Williamson, the group's president, but since January, 36% have been for new ventures {New Orleans: A Start Up Story, Business Week 2007}." Whether you want to admit it or not, from a branding point-of-view, New Orleans seems to be on the right track as far as carving out a new place for itself amongst the Creative Capital of today's workforce. I'm just waiting to see how the new New Orleans and all it's entrepreneurial glory is going to affect the returning of the one thing that New Orleans is more known for than anything-- the culture.

Beautiful Wife: Marital Bliss/ Ugly Husband: Lucky Bastard

Okay, maybe I was mean and presumptuous with the whole "beautiful wife/ugly husband" thing but we've all seen couples where {in our eyes} the beauty was kind of skewed one way or the other. Either the wife was drop dead gorgeous and the husband looked like the Hunchback of Notre Dame {with the income of Bill Gates} or the wife was a homely looking mess like Senator Hillary Clinton about 10 years ago {sorry senator but it's documented} and the husband was a real stud. Personally, I feel attractiveness, much like household chores, should be equally shared among a couple but once again science has proved me wrong. Damn you science.

Researchers at the University of Tennessee tested 82 newly-wed couples for facial attractiveness and marriage quality and their results were exactly what I thought all along: "most men who married attractive women were happy to bask in the glory of their partner's beauty {Why Gorgeous Girls are Happier with Plain Guys, The Daily Mail 2008}." Okay, so what about unattractive women who marry attractive men you may ask?

"Professor Jim McNulty reported: "Men who were more attractive than their partner demonstrated a tendency to offer less emotional and practical support to their wives" and this can be explained by the fact that attractive men are presented with more short-term mating opportunities. In other words, homeboy has more cooch thrown at him than home plate at Yankee Stadium. {I just came up with that one...you can have it}.
More details of the study can be found in the Journal of Family Psychology.

So the next time you see a couple and think the date/boyfriend/husband is way out his league just remember that "Men are rated as more likable and friendly when they have a wife who is very attractive." So either way it's a win-win for homeboy. He has you hating on him and his wife is adored and satisfied. All of this information makes you think twice about the following couples:

Beyonce and Jay-Z: Ain't nothing I can say about this couple that hasn't already been said. I'll leave it alone.

Baddest chick in the game, indeed.

Jermaine and Janet: Chris Rock said it best, "Finding out Janet Jackson is dating Jermaine Dupree is like finding out they were selling Bentleys for $5. Everybody had a chance to get one!"

I ain't mad at JD though. I'm still in love with Janet from her "
When I Think of You" days.

Catherine and Michael: This one threw everyone for a loop but you have got to respect the old playa's game. Catherine is going to be a banger for a long time.

Porschela Coleman and Russell Simmons: Russell keeps a looker on his arm and now I know why.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and his Ex-wife: No disrespect to the former Mrs. Rock but you'd think she'd be a little more exotic, gorgeous and pretty....like her ex-husband. Maybe that's why they aren't together. {Read the article}.

Why I Like: Estelle

I like this chick. I really do and before you say anything it's not just because she's cute, incredibly talented and British. It's because she's cute and incredibly talented--her being British is a bonus though. {Stop hating}.

I read about her in a Rolling Stone article and hit the nail on the head when comparing her to a combination of Lauryn Hill {pre-crazy} and Amy Winehouse {pre-crack}. The girl {Estelle} is dope and so dope that John Legend scooped her up to be on his own label {Homeschool Records}. One thing that blew me away was the fact that she used to re-work secular music into gospel. "British singer-rapper Estelle spent her childhood "flipping secular music to gospel" with her eight siblings.”We'd take Brandy's 'Best Friend' and make it about God being your best friend," says the twenty-seven-year-old West London native, born Estelle Swaray {
Artist to Watch: Estelle, Rolling Stone 2007}."

Now someone is listening to Estelle's great music and wondering how they can flip it. Check out videos for Estelle's singles "American Boy {Kanye KILLED his verses}" and "Wait a Minute, Just a Touch" below. I really like this chick.

Writings on the Wall, Burning Bushes and Other Signs You Should Resign

I think T.D Jakes captured it best when he said "I have the gift of good-bye". It's a powerful thing to be able to walk away from an unproductive situation but it's more empowering knowing WHEN to walk away...from anything especially a job. Like I mentioned before, I'm not one of those bloggers who passes along info that I haven't applied {Crown Ministries} and I can say that I completely co-sign on this advice because I recently resigned from a position and I think it was best for both parties.

Susan M. Heathfield, not pictured to the left, over at About.com {one of my absolute favorite websites} lays it out on the line with her article "Top 10 Reasons to Quit Your Job". Here are a few of the Top 10.

"Your relationship with your manager is damaged beyond repair. You have sought help to mend the relationship but you know it is too damaged for recovery. (Perhaps you were untrustworthy, missed work on too many days, or the manager acts like an untrustworthy jerk.) Whatever the reason, the relationship is irrecoverably damaged."

"You've stopped having fun and enjoying your job. No matter what changed, when you dread going to work in the morning, it's time to quit your job."

"For whatever reason, you have behaved in ways that are considered improper at work. You've missed too many days of work, slacked off on the job, failed to maintain needed skills, and/or just generally developed the reputation of a loser. That reputation, once earned, is unlikely to change; you might as well quit your job, while you have the opportunity."

Of course every job has it's bumps and every career has it's rough patches but I firmly believe that everyone has the right to work at a place where they are challenged, valued and happy. If at the core of your frustration you can honestly say that your current situation doesn't check those three boxes then it may be time for you to peace out. Check out the rest of the article {and more great info} when you get a chance.

The Beauty of Stimulation

If you are a creative professional or just a professional with a mean creative streak {like yours truly} then I have the perfect web-resource for you--http://www.behance.com/ This website/group/resource/network is amazing and one thing they aren't short on is inspiration.

One of my favorite teachers, ever, {
Mark Fenske} used to say that if you want something good to come out of your brain then put something good in it. He used to begin each of his classes with a piece of literature or music and he often showed movies for us to watch. Now that I think about it those two years were the most inspired I've been in a while. Tangent. I'm sorry.

The people at Behance offer great advice for creativity and creative thinking and the tip I stumbled across reminded me of Fenske.

"Some of the most productive creative minds rely on a periodic self-administered dose of randomness to stay stimulated. Stimulation is not only necessary when developing new ideas, but is also critical when refining solutions to a particular problem. Every brain benefits from new angles that often escape your traditional point of view {Seek Stimulation from Randomness, Behance Mag}."

Good info, right? Here's more.

"Travel without a map. When we venture beyond our comfort zone, we often over-compensate with extensive planning, maps, and itineraries. Instead, consider traveling somewhere without plans. Behance has interviewed many prolific Creatives that cite getting lost as the best way to find new solutions." That's good stuff. Although I can honestly say that traveling without a map only pisses me off at first then I end up enjoying it. Kudos to Behance.

Def Jam's Secret to Success

Before you get all huffy this isn't a stab at Rick Ross or Def Jam...it's more of a jab at the entire music industry. Rick {Rrrrrawus} just happened to be the butt of this spoof because homeboy had the #1 album in the country. Congrats man. Anyway, I found this clip over at the Complex blog the other day and have been cracking up at it ever since. Makes you wonder.

The Boondocks - Network Television = Brilliance

I still can't believe there are people {black people} who have never heard of, read or watched The Boondocks. Aaron McGruder has made some of the most insightful commentary on black life in America I've come across in my generation. {He's working his way into the TGS Hall of Fame}. What started out as a comic strip is now an animated series on Adult Swim {Cartoon Network} and don't sleep on it just because it's on the Cartoon Network.

For two seasons in a row The Boondocks has been cleaning up with ratings while making people laugh and educating them all at once. Whether the main characters are tackling closeted gay rappers {Gangstalicious}, Katrina refugees, vengeful demons {Stinkmeaner}, eliminating the condition of black self-hate {Uncle Ruckus} or battling Killer Kung Fu Wolf Bitches {Killer Kung Fu Wolf Bitch} nothing, this season, has caused as much controversy as the two banned episodes.

I still am not clear as to exactly why these two episodes where banned but I'm sure some people, some where got really pissy, damn near salty {mainly Reggie Hudlin, former Boondocks executive producer and current BET head honcho}. BET {Black Entertainment Television} is the target for both episodes and...let's just say that the network and it's leaders come under some heavy and hilarious scrutiny.

Hey, Aaron and his crew may be tough but I never said they were wrong. If you watch BET you'll understand. Check out the two banned episodes. Thanks to the Complex blog for posting these. Y'all literally made my day.

Episode 14: The Huey Freeman Hunger Strike

Episode 15: The Uncle Ruckus Reality Show

Quote for the Day

“Your own soul is nourished when you are kind; it is destroyed when you are cruel.”

-King Solomon

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Durand Bernarr: The New

Durand + J*Davey= Refreshing Artistry

Okay, aside from being hooked on the whole formula-thing {something I like + easy to do= you'll see it often} I'm also hooked on discovering "The New". You know what "The New" is. It's the combination of delightful anticipation and pleasure of experiencing the tangible thing that you never knew existed. I call it The New and yes I am an addict.

While reading reports about pest control {don't ask} I logged onto YouTube to listen to some of my favorite J*Davey music. Now don't take this the wrong way but don't feel so bad if you haven't heard about J*Davey. Truth is that most people haven't but when you finally hear their music you'll never forget it. I heard my first J*Davey track a few years ago {thanks FREE Magazine} and I've been on these kats ever since. As great as J*Davey is they are not the reason I'm posting this mini installment. I came across this dude named Durand Bernarr and I haven't been able to read another sentence within my pesky pest control reports since. Durand has officially made my train of logic jump off the tracks.

No offense to Durand but at first glance you wouldn't expect such a well-developed voice, full of character and control to burst out. It more than bursts it deceptively intertwines you and by the time you realize it your jaw has hit the floor. You might as well give up by then because he's gotten you. You're bobbing your head while being pleasantly amused. Well that's what happened to me.

There are a series of Durand videos online and he even has a few tracks on his Myspace page but I'm particularly smitten by the candid videos of him covering some of my favorite J*Davey tracks on YouTube. He's dope and silly which is a dangerous combination because he's always in the position to prove assholes wrong {I think most gifted people are always in this position...myself included}. Homeboy is the positive personification of why I don't listen to the radio {especially down here in ATL...more on that later}. I would've never found out about his fresh, untainted talent if I relied on "V 1-0-whatever " or "W-90-give me a break" to supply my "New" fix when it comes to music.

Keep singing...I mean sangin' D. It's {blessings, success, fame, artistic fulfillment, creative recognition, etc.} coming to you.


Oh yeah and for those who know me if you hear me say/sing "And we're drivinnnggg" in the near future you'll know where I got that from.

And scene.