Category: Sunday Soapbox


 

2pac

Many of you have watched me adjust to a life of order.  The weird days, the peaceful days, and the resentful days.  I’ve never been the hold on to anger type, really, but it’s human to look back at things you would do differently, knowing what you know now.

Today I was reminded of another cycle I’ve been breaking in real time; the place where you go from ‘intaking as much information as possible because you’re inquisitve/aware/woke’ to being overtaken by knowing so much.  Hitting the off switch, even in a time before we had all this ‘media’, is not one of the things I was taught; it’s something I’ve had to learn.  And relearn. And relearn again.

Make no mistake, I think it’s important to think about if x happens then y might happen, then z.  Obsessing over ‘z’ when x is still in play though, that’s a flaw of mine I own up to.

Getting more comfortable daily knowing when and where to hit the ‘off’ button, and turn my attention back to matters at hand.  Always a process, but the results are starting to show up.

So on that note, new week.  Track 1.  Let’s do this.

 

 

No post tomorrow, taking a daytrip shortly.  Feels like first vacation in my adult life where I’m not actually trying to ‘get away’ from anything; it’s just the right time since the summer will be full.

I’ve been trying to find the right words for where my head has been this year.  But a lot of my adjustment has been about (acting aside) not wearing my emotions on my sleeve. Not over explaining myself to people who aren’t interested in understanding. So I’ll try to keep this short.

Prayers to Isaiah Thomas and Todd Heap.  Prayers for Cleveland. A mutual friend of mine lost a close buddy this morning at 44; natural causes as far as they know at the moment.  So, more than enough reminders that we really don’t know how much time we have in total or how much time any of us have left.

So I’m appreciative to have worked until I could, in actor or meditation terminology, ‘be present’ at all times.  Lot of mistakes and bad things happen beyond my control, but I persevere.  And I enjoy life.

Wherever you’re at, or wherever you feel you’re at, I hope you can, or will eventually get to a place of peace.  If not for yourself, then to leave this world in a better place than you came into it.

Later.

 

 

Carlos-Santana-Bio

Got the script for the summer project over the weekend.  Started the character building.

Playing a ‘legendary musician’ type.  You know how they say ‘find something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life’?  It’s been a while since I’ve played an ‘uber cool’ type, so it’s been fun starting to build that out.  Trying on (name withheld’s) vocal inflections; borrowing (name withheld’s) style and seeing what looks ‘natural’ on me.  Watching clips of (name withheld) when he steps on the stage and owns the crowd for two hours.  I enjoy this part and we’ll see what the director likes and the director doesn’t.

One of many guys I’m using for influence in the legendary performers catalog to start the week.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

humannature

Looking out
Across the nighttime
The city winks a sleepless eye
Hear her voice
Shake my window
Sweet seducing sighs

Get me out
Into the nighttime
Four walls won’t hold me tonight
If this town
Is just an apple
Then let me take a bite

If they say,
Why, why, tell ’em that it’s human nature
Why, why, does he do it that way
If they say,
Why, why, tell ’em that it’s human nature
Why, why does he do me that way

Reaching out
To touch a stranger
Electric eyes are everywhere
See that girl
She knows I’m watching
She likes the way I stare

If they say,
Why, why, tell ’em that it’s human nature
Why, why, does he do me that way
If they say,
Why, why, tell ’em that it’s human nature
Why, why does he do me that way

I like livin’ this way
I like lovin’ this way

Why why
(That way) Why why

Looking out
Across the morning
Where the city’s heart begins to beat
Reaching out
I touch her shoulder
I’m dreaming of the street

If they say,
Why, why, tell ’em that it’s human nature
Why, why, does he do me that way
If they say,
Why, why, ooo tell ’em
Why, why does he do me that way
If they say why, why, cha cha cha cha cha cha
Why does he do me that way
If they say why, why, why, ooo tell ’em
Why does he do me that way
If they say why, ooo tell ’em
Why does he do me that way
If they say why, da da da da da da da da
Why does he do my that way, I like living this way
Why, oh why, why, why

 

 

Malcolm X kidding around with Muhammad Ali, New York, 1963

Another rotation around the sun nearly complete.  I’ve lived long enough to exist in Trump’s America.

Hooray…

Nearly all of us in life, will experience some personal and professional setbacks that screws up our plans.  I’ve lost more than one job, not from being fired but because the company as a whole went bankrupt.  I’ve had my fair share of family drama that crushed my spirit to the point of making me stop living my own life, so to speak.  In that way, I’m not unique in the slightest.

What makes me unique, at least in terms of identity politics, are my racial and religious identities.  In the Q&A I recently participated in, I was asked the question, ‘Do I feel being a Muslim has impacted my career?’  I’m paraphrasing, but my answer was ‘Probably.’

In my 20s, I worked at the Playboy Mansion, and had my own office on the Sony lot.  In the next phase, I’ve gotten to work with Issa Rae and Michael B. Jordan in their ascension, before they showed up on magazine covers.  So let’s be absolutely clear on this: I will never look at my life and say ‘Woe is me.’

But the answer is still ‘Probably’.  I can look back at both my personal life and my professional life, and see I’ve had more than a few opportunities to get to ‘the end.’  But the tradeoff if I would have made different choices had the feeling of crossing a point of no return in my relationships to my black friends.  Or to my Muslim friends.  Or both.

So I’ve sucked it up, and chosen to take the long way to achieve my goals.

I’ve leveled up in the last 365 days.  It didn’t literally take 20 years but it certainly feels that way.  I’ve noticed my mood swings one of three ways.  Most days I’m good; my ambition is more than enough to keep me focused on the next hurdle I aim to climb and what I need to do next.  On the good days, I can take pride in how far I’ve been able to go without destroying what I believe in.  On the bad days, I feel anger and resentment that I have to constantly hold myself and my decision making abilities to this Obama-esque level of near perfection.  My bad decisions aren’t as easily forgotten, my flaws aren’t shrugged off by either majority community that I respect but I’m not going out of my way to placate either.  The Game is the Game, but at this point I can see I will have a chip on my shoulder the rest of my days.  It is what it is.

At the end of the day though, I’ve fought and hustled and worked myself into a position where I get to live my life on my terms.  Not for one second do I take that for granted. Not for one second do I not recognize how rare that feeling is for anyone, let alone someone of my background.

I’m grateful and at peace with how much my life is the anomaly.  My fire still burns strong and I look forward to seeing what else I can achieve with the rest of my days.

Onward.

 

mali

So, I still don’t really have the words. I’m physically drained to say nothing of my emotions.  It’s been a weekend spent touching base with my people so we can vent to each other.  I’m genuinely thankful to the friends who texted and DM’d to make sure my head was still on straight (you know who you are).

I know how many of you could choose to stay silent or look the other way but choose to voice your dissatisfaction or anger when it doesn’t effect you so directly.  If there’s one Muslim teaching I try to define my life by, it’s ‘You have not worshipped perfectly until you want for your brother what you want for yourself.’  I think I saw it on Amy Schumer’s Instagram, but my favorite sign from the airports said, ‘They came for the Muslims and we said Not Today Motherfucker!’  So whether you’re physically at the airports or you have another way of letting them no, ‘We won’t stand for this’, I thank you.

I still don’t really have humor in me so we start this week with brother from another mother, Mahershala Ali.  Won the SAG Award for Best Supporting Actor, gave this speech.

Onward.

 

 

aziz-ansari-c-ruvan-wijesooriya

This has been a weekend.

Saturday: how can you not be impressed? I know men and women who marched in DC, I know men and women who marched in L.A.  I don’t think it’s remotely coincidental these are the same people who have my back when I drop the comedy and speak with passion about my racial or religious identities.  The best compliment I can give is the truest; I was going to privately message everyone I saw on the streets, but I would literally still be sending my praise and support out 24 hours later.  You guys all did well.  Now on to the next phase…

Sunday: I was writing something completely political this morning when I got the news Yordano Ventura died in a car accident.  Forget sports for a minute, 25 is just an extremely young age to die.  Prayers to his family, the Royals organization and the Dominican Republic (as Ventura wasn’t the only native ballplayer who died today).

So the wind was taken out of my ‘Sunday post’ sails pretty early.  We’ll start this week with some comedy.  My Hollywood twin Aziz Ansari hosted SNL this weekend and no surprise he did well.  Oscar nominations are announced Tuesday morning; this one definitely got some chuckles out of me.

Enjoy!

 

 

Public Enemy
Yo! Bum Rush The Show
HIGH RESOLUTION COVER ART

Who can really say for certain what’s to come in 2017?

Whatever shape it takes, we’ll be ready.

Let’s do this.

 

 

2016

Taking stock of the past twelve months…

For the first time (within one calendar year), I auditioned as Othello, Dr. King, and Malcolm X for different stage productions across town. Malcolm came post-November, and it was ‘Nation of Islam Minister Malcolm X’ at that.  I would have given Denzel a run for his money that day!  I’m comfortably in my sweet spot with the character types I excel in.  And it’s starting to mesh with the characters people see in me when I walk in the room and do a monologue.  Good times.

Private life feels settled for the first time in years as well.  There’s the Family, there’s the ‘Fam’, there are friends and there are work friends.  Current events have reinforced the natural bonds between myself and those with a common religious identity, a common racial experience; common politics or just a common vibe with how we look at the world.  More goodness.

One of the first things I took from Stella Adler is still one of the best: “Your aim should be to have a life that includes playing the part…”  Not the other way around.  My defining story of 2016, I don’t think anyone involved will be put out by me sharing this…

I got an invite about a possible job with the Los Angeles Lakers.  My Lakers.  They were looking for someone passionate about the franchise, comfortable with the camera and with live crowds, who they could trust to not talk about grabbing pussies on a hot mic.  They thought I might be a good fit.

But here was the issue: one of my brothers was getting married on the same timeline they needed to see me.  And I was in the wedding party.

Now, when I was say, 25? Would I have burned a personal relationship to the ground for a potential dream job opportunity?  Some of you know the answer to that better than others (and will never let me forget it).

But I’m not that guy anymore.  Haven’t been for years.  The wedding weekend was an experience, and of course the Lakers understood the timing was just bad, so long term they appreciated my professionalism while getting a peek into my value system as a man.  My ego was bruised for a couple days (no need to lie about that), but I did the right thing.

And not that I needed the Universe to further validate me, but not too long after that, my Hollywood patrons reached out to me out of the blue and gave me a part on one of their projects.  So you can look forward to seeing your boy in front of the camera again next summer.  If not sooner.

I haven’t always had the gift of relationship building, but I’ve learned. I’m always learning and still love doing so.

So in the year I’ll always remember for my house being completely put in order, I look outside (or in 2016, I log on) and…yeah.  The goodbyes this year have felt especially hard (like the two beloved people up top, just for starters).  Things seem especially dark on the world stage.  I have no naive optimism for you going into the next year.  Just a renewed commitment to do the right thing, even if it seems like it’s going to be harder than ever to do so.

Onward and Upward.  See you in 2017.

 

davesnl

Many thoughts still, but as of this writing, we still have at least eight years to cover that.

In the meantime, you most likely knew I’d start this week with a sketch from last night’s SNL.  It was just a matter of which one.

I still have to pick my spots with the interwebs so I don’t stay in a state of perpetual depression/anger, but THIS was the cynical laugh I needed.

Thanks Chris and Dave.