Friday, January 21, 2011

21 and Above

21. What is it about that number that we Americans love? Beyond the obvious answer being the ability to get wasted legally, why do we officially christen young people as “adults” once they hit the big 2-1?

Yeah, they can smoke like chimneys and shoot automatic weapons at brown people in the military at 18, but they still can’t see naked boobies at XXX joints or get a Jack Daniels without begging the guy outside the liquor store to buy some for them.

What happened to America that made her change her mind about allowing 10 year olds to drown their sorrows at the bar after failing their geometry tests (You know, like way back in the 1890s)? Why does 21 rule?

Could it be the way 21 sounds when you say it? The number does sound a lot sexier on the ears than 14 or 11, especially when you imagine Marilyn Monroe or Pierce Bronsman saying it. Try saying every number from 1 to 21 in your head in the most exotic way and say it isn’t true! “Twenty onnnneeeeeee! Twenty-oneeeeeeeee!”

It isn’t? Ah, what do you guys know, with your lame, super-fast, 4G powered Blackberries and high-definition television sets with 1080p formats and Blue Ray? Sconex still rules!
Maybe we’re not fascinated by the way 21 sounds, but rather the second digit that makes it up. People always strive to be “Numero Uno” in everything they do. That’s what makes up the American spirit. That’s why we are considered the number 1 country on the planet, until China comes knocking for its money.
Our presidents are referred to as “Leaders of The Free World,” further implying number 1 status. Rap star Nelly even made a song called “#1,” though it never quite reached that status on the Billboard Hot 100. Bottom line is we love 1.

So would it really be crazy to say this is the reason 21 is the 100 percent legal age in the United States? Think about it. The tallest, oldest kids were always 1st in line to drink from the water fountain back in elementary school. That privilege seems to apply to 21-year olds in a sense.

They get 1st and only dibs on the booze and strippers while the younger folk have to settle for virgin Daiquiris and Penthouse Monthlies.
But don’t fret though. Tis’the way of human life, and has been since time began. When all you filthy underagies become awesome overagers, you’ll take Big Billy’s place at the fountain and bully the younger kids (Ok, you probably shouldn’t do that, but if you do, you never read this piece.Got it?).

Hold up. You still think that’s bogus? What happened to those wonderful times when kids were not to be seen or heard? Perhaps we should bring the old school back. Well, there is one more possibility.
Maybe 21 was chosen as the all-essential legal age because of how it looks when you write it down on paper with a really curvy 2 and 1. Like the way 7 looks on a fancy-schmancy French restaurant menu. Sure, you could do the same to 18, but…it’s 18. Nobody really cares about it as much. And don’t even bring up 17. That number looks more like that ugly mole you see on your face the day you turn 16. Ewwww to the 1-6, by the way

Does that finally work for you? NO??? Ahh, you dudes are insufferable little punks. You only believe what they tell you in schools and online. Know something? The real reason 21 is the official legal age in America is because long ago, 21 kicked numbers 20-1’s butts in a battle royale at the center of the Earth. The other numbers, from 22 to infinity, decided it was best not to mess with 21, so it became the Alpha number. That’s the story. Take it or leave it

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Let Em Live!

The word "hate" is a strong terminology, heard and felt in shockwaves throughout our entire lives. People will hate you because you're a certain skin color. They'll hate because you're a standout student-athlete attending Cornell on a basketball scholarship with a 4.0 GPA while their GED sevles are stuck at home eating Cheese-Its all day.

Others will aim their hatred at you for being gay or not acquiescing to their standards, if they're well below what they are accustomed to. The entertainment industry is chock full of all these types of hate-famous people who attract scorn and vinegar for their chosen musical, film and athletic avenues.

Two industry people in the third hate category for the music they produce are pop-lockin-rapper-ternt-millionaire Soulja Boy and Canadian sensation Justin Bieber. Before I continue, I must admit that Mr. DeAndre has struck a nerve with me on account of his popular made up dance-"The Superman", derived from his hit single, "Crank That." The track, and its accompanying video-wrapped up in insufferable bubblegumness we surely haven't heard from other hip-hop groups down South-just doesn't sit well with me.

And while I've yet to really listen to anything from Justin Bieber, I can't say I'm a fan of his Backstreet Boys, Aaron Carter swag. Neither is a large portion of the general public, who've made the overnight pop sensation into the most maligned kid superstar(s) since Milli Vanilli. Both artists aren't my cup of tea either, but is all this negative energy dedicated to attacking them really worth it?

Soulja Boy's rise to stardom has attracted many antagonists and Hip-Hop purists who've classified him as a one-hit wonder and a cancer to the art form. Legendary rapper Ice-T even took to the mixtape scene to denounce Soulja in 2008, saying, "F**k Soulja Boy! Eat a d***!" Many Hip-Hop blogs have developed the same sentiment, poking even more fun at the Atlanta rapper for his alleged rendezvous with rap's favorite groupie after Karrine Steffans, Kat Stacks, in a hotel room this past August.

In a video shot after the encounter, Stacks showed what appeared to be a pile of cocaine on the room dresser as Soulja Boy showered, giving him another negative reputation as an alleged coke user.

If you'd asked me if Ice-T was right about SB last year, I would've agreed without any hesitation. But as I've gotten older, I've started wondering about how justified it is to attack a kid who loves making music and carries no ill harm towards any other artists, especially when you consider that Ice-T is approaching his 50s and Soulja Boy's not even old enough to drink yet. It's perfectly understandable that people may not like the dance-oriented, poppy style he works with, but when it comes down to it, why should we care?

Soulja Boy is a self-made millionaire at 20-years old, having founded his own record label when he was only 14! How many guys you know were doing things that big at that age that had nothing to do with "catching them all" in Pokemon Yellow? I rest my case.

This kid went from being a virtual nobody in the game to becoming the youngest person in history to have a No#1 song on the Billboard Hot 100. Through a brilliant Internet campaign where he posted his songs, he rose from Mississippi beginnings to unprecedented heights.

There's no need to characterize Soulja Boy as the sole person responsible for "killing" Hip-Hop. Many people are responsible for that happening. He's doing his own thing, and rather than yell, "I hate Soulja Boy!" every time he's mentioned, why not just say, "He's done good for himself, but I'm just not in the demographic of people he targets?"
Same goes for Bieber.
How the world has turned to making the Bieb its own punching bag. Everyone from Cheslea Handler to Daniel Tosh has thrown verbal darts at the singer for saying, "shawty" in his slightly pipsqueak voice. Justin just couldn’t keep away from the homosexual allegations which automatically come with being 16 and trying to sound like a player when you really sound like your younger sister when you speak.

Along with Soulja Boy, Justin Bieber has been classified as having no talent. He's supposedly a punk kid who needs to go to Far Far Away Land and never return. Sigh, sigh, sigh. Why do we persist in showering these individuals with hate? Not everyone can be the second coming of Tupac or Justin Timberlake. Some musicians are going to make music that you will personally despise or never warm up to. Does that mean you have to hate the artists making it? There's enough hate in this world as it is.

Don't hate these guys; just don't bother listening to their music. Long as you have fingers and hands attached to them, you shouldn't encounter any problems with changing the dial whenever "Crank That" or "Baby" comes on the radio. The next time either of the two come up in convos with your friends, just say you're not into their music. There's little need to say you hate them when they've done nothing directly to you to warrant that feeling.

We all love poking fun at people whenever they do things we deem embarrassing or corny or act in a publicly humiliating way. But unless Soulja Boy and Justin Bieber have tied you up to a chair and forced a gun to your head, please, try not to hate.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Bloomberg Vs. Smoking: Round 2

Fresh off his indoors cigarette ban from a few years ago, Mayor Bloomberg wants to expand the law to each of the city’s 1,700 parks and 14 miles of beach. Citing secondhand smoke statistics contributing to high asthma and cancer rates in non-smokers, Bloomberg summed up his response to them in one simple sentence: “We’re doing something about it.”

The bill has yet to be approved by City Council, but the clear cut issue here is whether this is a genuine attempt to improve the health of all New Yorkers or continue Big Brother’s secret plot to interfere in and regulate every aspect of our lives. The evidence against smoking as a potentially deadly recreational activity has mounted over the years.

We've known for a long time now that the same chemicals found in urine and rat poison are also prevalent in cigarettes. In that respect, one could see Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal as one large step to transforming the city into a utopia of healthy bodies and cleanliness.

But who’s to say that this isn’t a small step in a larger plan to secretly install cameras in our houses? You can regulate indoor facilities, as they are owned by people. Nobody owns the outdoors, however, so how can the city possibly exert such control over the natural world beyond our doors? Is the Mayor attempting to play God?

What about all the CO2 emissions by cars? According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, global carbon dioxide emissions are expected to increase 43% by 2035. And while more public transit systems are powering themselves using electric and solar energy, a large number of cars and trucks filling New York’s streets still don’t have mufflers, adding as much filth to the air as the average smoker, possibly on a larger scale.

As somebody whose father suffered a stroke from smoking in 2006 and now has to take pills every day to survive, I feel that this could really add years to lives in the city, smoker and non-smoker. But the more anti-establishment half of me sees this as part of an attempt to eventually place us all under total mind control using helmets disguised as the latest fashion statements. So, is Big Bro really watching? Check under your pillows and in your cabinets the next time you hear "Whirr" sounds coming from them. They might not be those troublesome mice after all.