Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"Girls" Fucking Badly

First, if I was a girl, I’d be kinda pissed that every show that is supposed to define me revolves around dick. Really, every character in Girls has an identity essentially defined by their relationship to dick. Hanna: gets abused by dick. French girl: gets pregnant by dick. Marnie: doesn’t want to see her man’s dick. Uptight Jewy girl: desperately seeking dick (come on, her name is SHOSHANNA SHAPIRO). Mr. Giles once asked “What Means the World to You?” Clearly, Judd Appatow and Lena Dunham answer this existential question with some really awkward white dick.

The episode opens with the most traumatic thing on television these days: Helen on her back not being able to shut the fuck up with her mans on top fantasizing about her as jail bait with a cabbage patch lunch box. He says he wants to cum all over her and send her home to her parents. SON, this is strange even to Japanese people. That sound you heard was the creator of bukkake crying because he has finally been usurped by this Cabbage Patch pedophile. I mean, I like watching helicopter videos as much as the next guy but this is OD. Next we see Marnie with Nip Tucked Vinnie Chase talking about how they should look in each others’ eyes when he cums. Uhhh, why don’t you just sing kumbaya with a shampoo bottle up your ass cause that’d probably make you less of a biscuit. Lena, you want to explore generational speak? Please explain to me why its impossible to find another word besides “gay” to end that sentence with; I’m not gonna say it, but I need new material. I can only call people biscuits and ass burgers so many times. Come to think of it, they should really swap Marnie with Hanna just so we could all laugh when Allison Williams gets sent home covered in cum with a Cabbage Patch lunch box to Brian Williams. That hit record’s for you Lana.

 On her way out, Hanna tries to relive last night’s role play. LET IT GO! Clearly, she doesn’t listen to Dane Cook, not that anyone should, but he has this bit about how dudes blurt things out like “My dick feels like corn.” I’m more of a “My dick feels like bean curd skins” kinda guy, but regardless you get the point, we have no control over this shit. Cook loves how women just roll with the punches, don’t call us out on the Tourettes, and say things like “Gimme the butter baby” or “Would you like some green tea with that?” I usually hate it when people finish my sentences, but who am I to talk? That is definitely my thumb in her ass. Jessa decides to get an abortion.


 Hanna gets a job interview and aptly identifies the difference between Williamsburgh and Greenpoint. Another superfluously intuitive comment on our generation that I was just DYING for someone to make. I almost OMG’d but my girl was over and she would never let me sit on her face again if I said OMG. “BE A MAN, DO THE RIGHT THING!” - Russell Peters aka the only entertaining Indian person in any medium besides Priya Rai. YOU SUCK AZIZ. But, in a coup Lena is able to drop the name Weather Up into Hanna’s monologue and I like it. What up Matty and Tyler? You guys will be on Eater National tomorrow by 11am. Hanna tells a great date rape joke and doesn’t get her job which is just a set up for another larger statement on how reckless, irreverent, cynical, and nihilist our generation is. BUT, instead of watching this show that prosthelytizes us on what our generation is, you should tune in 30 minutes earlier and watch Veep. A show that is ACTUALLY irreverent, cynical, nihilistic, and written well.

 Fast forward to the free clinic. Shoshanna rolls in with a Dylan’s Candy Bar bag: a dead give away that she believes in unicorns, but doesn’t swallow. Jessa doesn’t show up for her abortion and instead gets finger blasted at a bar drinking White Russians. Marnie gets mad because she planned every thing to be just right and, finally, there is a semblance of good writing when Hanna says “How could she ruin the beautiful abortion you threw? You are a really good friend and you threw a really great abortion.” THAT’S IT, LENA! If you actually have characters that are nasty and foster a healthy anger towards the world in a snarky intelligent multi-cultural way that is logical and irreverent of emotions as well as some aspects of socio-economics because we’ve all heard PJ sob stories but we’ve also read the Other Wes Moore and voted for Obama, then you have a generation defining show. I’m not saying I agree with these sentiments or that you need to try and represent all of them in every 30 minute episode you write, but it kinda encapsulates the culture we’ve been creating thus it probably represents some of the bullshit that we are.

 The show is ill in the fact that it captures how brutally unbearable privileged white women are but its way too self-aware and indulgent in the fact that they are applying old archetypes and tupperware party social dynamics to the free clinic. The show fails because it puts motifs before an actual thesis and openly seeks to be a show we’ve seen before for a new generation. I love Judd Appetow for it because its such a puppeteer move and he’s gonna get paid, but anyone involved who wants to see it as anything more than a calculated show looking to fill the void left by Sex and the City is a fucking liar. 30 Rock says more about our generation as the Thursday replacement for Seinfeld than Girls says about anything. Watch Veep, that shit is setting every thing on FIRE. Liz Lemon was the new Elaine but now Elaine is the new Liz Lemon all over again. I love this game.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Skillshare Penny Conference Speech (written out)

(I come in at 40 minutes on the video)

Me, Myself, and Why?

A few weeks ago, Malcolm and Mike of Skillshare asked me to speak about learning so I made a list: The Five things I learned the most from.

The Godfather

Charles Barkley

Hip Hop

Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal”

My Parents

You look at the list and 4 out of the 5 are things that aren’t taught in schools, yet, that’s where we spend 16,380 hours of our lives from the ages of 5 to 18. I would hope that if I spent 16,000+ hours in a joint that I would leave with more than one essay from an Irish dude written in 1792. As Al Qaeda Jada once said, "Know n!cc@s that go to jail just to get they teeth fixed," which is probably more than what I got from High School.

As an 80s baby that grew up with TV, Blockbuster, Sam Goody, and the Internet, I immersed myself in pop culture and divorced institutional education at an early age. I had a couple great teachers like Mr. Richmond, Barrows, and Fedell, but even they would admit that the “teach but don’t piss off the PTA” approach to American Education is paralyzing. I mean, what do you expect to learn in public schools that have disclaimers on Darwin and free lunch that’ll put you in a coma? Not only are our schools arrested by the politics du jour, but the entire educational system is one size fits all with an eye toward producing professionals not thinkers. What I’ve realized is that our best educators are ourselves; when it comes to learning, it’s just Me, Myself, and Why?

For me, it started with questions. As a kid, I was a natural lefty, but they made me use my right hand and I asked why? I asked why I had to go to school on Chinese New Year when others got their holidays off and they didn't have answers, just cultural judgments. Later on, when we read the Beatniks, I asked why they’d teach the Beatniks but not Beats, Rhymes, and Life? They didn’t have any answers so I...
Found the Abstract listenin’ to hip hop,
My pops used to say it reminded him of be-bop,
I said well Daddy don’t you know that things go in cycles,
The way that Bobby Brown is just ampin like Michael,
Its all expected, things are for the lookin,
If you got the money, Quest is for the bookin’
- Q Tip

The most important thing I can say is that learning should be bespoke. I didn’t put much value in grades or standardized tests because I competed against myself. While other people knew what college or major they would declare, I had no idea. I couldn’t pin point one thing because I was into it all. The only thing I knew was that my brain was a weapon and I wanted it to be as sharp as fucking possible. Clearly, smoking weed and eating gummy bears was hypocritical, but other than that, I spent most of my time reading books and debating with dead people in the margins. I liked to look at people’s books because most of them read passively. You could have passed their books off on Amazon as brand new, but my books are full of notes, comments, and ear marks. I understand that we live in an adversarial society and that communication is a two way street. Who the fuck wants to go 350 pages and get talked to? It’s not a lecture B! Reading is an interaction between you and the writer so squeeze it for every thing you can. This is your time to sit with William Shakespeare and get in his head. That’s what books are to me. A couple hours to pick a truly exceptional human being’s brain.

But, we all know its not just about books. Depending on how you respond, find a medium that speaks to you. It could be music, sports, movies, art, design, late night convos at Schiller’s, whatever, just get involved and speak to those things and people that inspire you. Tolstoy has a great essay we’ve all read called “What is Art?” and to me, it’s interesting to see this guy in his era try to put parameters around what constitutes Art. It’s relevant to education because we’re finally at a time where people are accepting that the definition and boundaries of learning have shifted. Why do we constantly use the same outdated methods and definitions of education when you can learn the same things in Julius Caesar that you can watching the fall of Stringer Bell in The Wire.

In high school, I lived across the street from my best friend, Warren, and his parents had me tutor him in Math. It was mad awkward because I respected him and knew that he was as smart if not smarter than me, but Warren was dyslexic. When neon lights came on at school, letters and numbers would get jumbled and he couldn't follow. It had nothing to do with him being intelligent or not but he was stigmatized learning disabled and I always felt it was unfair. His parents gave him a lot of yard work to do and when they built their house Warren cleared the lot with his brother by hand. Anytime something broke at our house, my Mom would ask Warren about it before a professional and she noticed "This guy is a genius with his hands!" She was right, Warren went to LSU, Grad School in Australia, and today teaches courses on environmentally sensitive construction and design. It just shows that we need to expand our search for genius because we aren't giving people the opportunities to change the world in the ways they can.

It’s important to realize that you have opportunities to learn every day and it’s up to you whether you capitalize on them or not. These days, I learn a lot from things like fantasy sports. The entire game is based on finding value where others don’t, leveraging that value, selling players before they go bust, etc. There’s the interplay of media influence, actual metrics, personal preference, and emotional weakness. Anything you can learn from the stock market, you can learn for free from fantasy sports. There probably isn’t a better place to explore emotional intelligence and probabilities than poker. And if you’re looking for book recommendations browse okcupid. I’m serious, yall may not get along cause shawty’s looking long term and you checked the casual sex box, but she got good taste in books so raid the list.

If I were to boil “learning” down to one act or skill, it would be “analysis”. Whether it’s English, Math, Basket Weaving, or Tribal Dance, what we’re trying to teach people is the ability to independently analyze and interact with the world. Which makes me wonder, why do we have vocab tests, memorization tests, or anything that attempts to force a canon of knowledge onto an individual when what we SHOULD be teaching are analytical skills? If you gain the ability to absorb, see, and then break things down, you can learn anything you want. We shouldn’t be making cultural judgments on what people “should” know; we should be focused on giving people the ability TO KNOW.

Gotta go, gotta go, more baos to bake up... word up