Wednesday, December 31, 2008

To Whom it May Concern:

I wouldn't say I copied the American Express ad idea from a friend, I would say it was "inspired" (you know, like what Beyonce does, lol). Well today is the last day of 2008 and I thought that I would write a little about the year that was. I guess the presidential race was the obvious big story out of 2008. And rightfully so. You couldn't have written a better cast of characters or the ensuing drama. And it seems that Obama, the hero, was propped up to win. And somewhere along the way, Americans started to care about their country. After years of war, recession, and bad news, Obama and Hillary (and even Palin for her part) was something new. So 2008 is even more pivotal because it saw the collapse and fall of the old and the rise of new and the ubiquitous change we want to believe. Wall Street collapsed, the American auto dealers are on the verge of demise, and all that we have know will be history as we face an uncertain future.

And I suppose this would be general feeling at the moment. I don't know what the future has in store for me. But I do feel up for the challenge. I have endured, I have kept up, and I will keep going. As Hillary Clinton said in her speech during the DNC (quoting Harriet Tubman), "When you see the light, keep going! If you hear the dogs barking, keep going! If you want a taste a freedom, KEEP GOING! And so I shall live on, going on into an uncertain future with many new challenges. And so I find my own life running parallel to the country. And it's weird, because I never considered myself a patriot as others consider the term. But for the first time, in my adult life, I have a sense of pride about the country. I am proud to be in a country that could elect a person of color to the highest office. Oftentimes, Americans live in a bubble and do not realize that to be born a person of color puts you at an automatic disadvantage ANYWHERE on Earth. You can hear similar accounts of institutionalized racism and bigotry among minority populations across the globe. So for this country to elect President of color, was a monumental symbol of hope and inspiration to non white children across the Earth. That with alot of integrity, much strength and endurance, and a thunderous drive and tenacity you can achieve anything your mind can conceive. That is the change I believe in, and that is the change I have been striving to become all my life.

It was apparent to me from a very early age that I was different. And after years spent trying to fit in or find a group, the last few years I have found strength and power in my distinction. And I know now that I will never fully fit in, and I would not want it any other way. Because now is the time for people who are different: It's MY time, and my destiny awaits.

Happy New Year everyone, wishing you peace, prosperity, and HOPE for a better tomorrow!

Yours Truly,


Monday, December 29, 2008

Aristocratic Music: Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday
"Don't Explain"

The irony is that it is when they are at their lowest and most tormented state that artists are able to deliver such emotionally poignant music. Painful, heartfelt, and tragic: Billie Holiday

Aristocratic Music: Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington
"In a Sentimental Mood"
This is one of my favorite compositions. It is smooth, sultry, and it puts me in more than a sentimental mood.

Adventures in Job Hunting

Well, if I didn't fail Evidence (courtesy of Prof. Weems), it looks like I am finished with law school. People still ask me my impressions, and I don't quite have a grasp on it. The only thing that comes to mine is the analogy I made early on comparing law school to pledging a fraternity. It's not like I have never been academically challenged before, but in law school, it seems there is an institutionalized method of presenting various obstacles that students must overcome. The first year was definately "sink or swim." It's like you find yourself in this situation trying to figure it all out, and it all comes down to one test. The process gets less taxing as you come to terms with the process. But for the life of me, I have never worked so hard to achieve mediocrity. Your grades oftentimes are measured against your peers (there is some real life practicality in this), and many time, the amount of studying does not determine the grades you received. I have never studies so, so much to only get a C. And that is, excuse me, was law school. I earned that Juris Doctor through sweat and tears, literally. And I don't regret it. Having knowledge of the law and legal system does impart power. You have a sense of security about how things work and you have a basic understanding of your rights and certain procedures. I always imagined that I would go to law school, and now that school is out forever, I am left to think about the rest of my life: beginning with landing a job in a dismal economy.

So I have a specific career goal. Ultimately I would like to be a political analyst and contributer for CNN. In addition, I wouldn't mind doing political consulting and advising. Accordingly, I never went to law school to practice law per se. I simply thought the degree lends itself to flexibility allowing me the opportunity to have several career options. And it does, and that is definately a plus in trying to find a job right now. So I am beginning to feel like Frodo (Lord of the Rings). In following every lead and every connection, I am going from place to place trying to land just the right position. I won't go into detail about it, but I am trying to keep the faith.

I have moments of doubt. I mean, I never factored that I would graduate at a time like this. There was a certain expectation I had while in school. It wasn't an entitlement, it was the natural progression of things (so I thought). You put in the time, you do what you are supposed to do, think about the future today, and you have everything lined up so that when you graduate you have an opportunity waiting for you. So, there are moments when I feel some anxiety because I am the type of person who likes to be one step ahead. And now I am in a situation where I have to wait. Patience was never my strongest suit, but friends and family are helping me through it.

But in a less serious change of discussion. What I will always prescribe to anyone searching for a job, is to have a well tailored suit. But come on, who of us has tailors at this point? Right, so when I say well tailored, I mean buy a suit that FITS. Take for example, Mr. Bond:
This how you wear a suit. As a graduation gift, my dad bought me a navy suit from Banana Republic. Their suits run up to $400 dollars, but I got mine for $150, courtesy of
the recession. I have lost some weight in the past few years, so the suits I have really did not fit well. The last interview I had, I felt so self conscious about it. So, I needed to get a suit that fit. I would say the next to "who you know" and "what you know" (the latter being less significant), the presentation (what you look like) counts for something. And inherently, when you look good, you feel good and you are more readily able to convey your experience and credentials with confidence. I was trying to pass on wear 42 Longs (in chest) matched with matching suit pant slacks I had with 36 in waists! Yeah, there used to be a little more of me to love. But currently, for my best suit is a 40 (regular or long depending on the cut) with a 33 inch waist pant (or 32, depends on cut). The arms of the blazer should fall just enough to wear you are able to reveal a bit of cuff. And the blazer itself, should hug the shoulders as if it was made for you. For men, it's about the fit and proportion. When you can get the right fit and proportion for your body type, you can never go wrong.

Aristocratic Style Icon: David Beckham

This guy knows how to be a celebrity. I don't know if the many people who know who David Beckham is actually watch soccer, but this guy knows how to "step out." Part old British aristocrat and part rugged eastern european, Beckham knows how to update the classics. Take this look for example: preppy on the top, rugged on the bottom. And when it's time to be in all out suit mode, Beckham understands the importance of a perfectly tailored suit.

David's wife is also very stylish, and together they make the perfect how-to guide for couples. Again, not sure if the two have earned their level of fame in the U.S., but they sure look good trying. David Beckham is an aristocratic style icon because I think many of the things he chooses to wear are timeless and will never go out of style. Not many "what were they thinking" moments for this athlete.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Aristocratic Viewing: My Favorite TV Shows

(1) Six Feet Under: This show was brilliantly written and well cast. There are not too many shows in which every single character and supporting characters are interesting. Even the minor roles, every single character was written so dynamically and three dimensional. The show follows the ups and downs of the Fisher family and their business -- a funeral home. It seems that in dealing with death on a daily basis, the Fishers have trouble living and the series documents their journeys. Each of the main character's storylines are rich. I am collecting the seasons and catching up with the Fishers.

(2) Rome: It only rain for two glorious seasons. I believe that was the intent as it was an expensive show to produce. The series follows the rise and fall of Ceasar, Marc Antony, Cleopatra, and Augustus. This is a brutal translation as HBO doesn't hold off on the blood and sex. This series was awesome!

(3) The Sopranos: If you haven't heard, then obviously you have been living under a rock. One of the greatest shows ever.

(4) Nip/Tuck: This is a guilty pleasure. If anything, this drama is an illustration of the seven deadly sins at work. The characters in this show all checked any moral compass at the door. For this, the show may not be as easily digestible for those with earnest sensitivities. I can't think of any character on the show not severly flawed in character. And that is the genious of the show. The show is about individuals' pursuit for physical perfection without regard for their internal ugliness. This beautiful cast of characters is just as ugly on the inside as they are beautiful on the outside. In their debauchery, each character finds themself deeper in disparity with each passing season and each passing season.

(5) Damages: This show just premiered last year and it is amazing. The whole season was built around a lawsuit and a mysterious "who done it-style" murder. It is brilliantly acted, and Glenn Close's portrayl of a shrewd and take-no-prisoners attorney is bone chilling. This is legal drama done right.

(6) Tru Blood: From the creators of Six Feet Under comes this tale about vampires. Oh, but it is so much more. The vampires represent a new exposed part of society trying to fit in among individuals who fear or hate them. Sound familiar? Set in the deep South, the allusions and metaphors are strong and constant. This is a must see for the southern studies crowd. And for the record, never before on television has anyone captured the proud bravado and childish ignorance of the southern redneck like the actor who plays Jason Stackhouse. From accent to swagger, this guy has nailed it. Usually, I cringe at hollywood attempts to paint accurate pictures of southern dynamics, but Tru Blood gets it right.

(7) Oz: an old HBO series set in a maximum security prison. Grim, gritty, and unpredictable. This show helped to cement HBO's place among groundbreaking television.

(8) South Park: Satire, satire, satire. How well these four kids illustrate just how dumb adults can be!

Aristo-Politico: Harvey Milk

I just saw "Milk," the biopic about the rise of the nation's first openly gay (surley not the first) man elected to public office. I knew the story before, so needless to say, I knew how it all ends. So the director's task was to effectively tell a story that could reach a broad audience drawing upon univesal themes. Juxtaposing this film with the election of Barack Obama, and the timing could not have been more perfect. Moreover, with the current debates surrounding same sex marriage, the movie was released at a heightened time of political activism. However, the subject of this post is to discuss how moved I was by this film.

The film opens alluding to what will happen in the films final moments. The character himself takes us through historical context in which he was able to rise to become the influential person he was. The film effectively narrates the political current: the christian evangelicals as crusaded by Anita Bryant (the original Sarah Palin) are fueling initiatives throughout the country to supress or repeal the passage of any laws that may prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation. In this case, individuals' jobs were threatened based merely on their sexual orientation. Seems archaic today, right? Well currently, although there is a piece of legislation on capital hill that would amend Title VII to include sexual orientation as an impermissible basis for employment termination, the law has yet to pass. Still, in some states, there are laws protecting discrimination based on sexual orientation. So, in Milk's time, the fight was to protect the employment rights of Americans. Fair enough, but Anita Bryant and company found gay and lesbian Americans deplorable and unsuitable to teach children in school for fear they may "turn them gay." Interesting correlation to say the very least.

At any rate, Harvey Milk forms a coalition in San Francisco's Castro District. He mobilizes the gays first. He orchestrates, successfully, some boycotts. Still he is unable to get elected. So he broadens his reach and begins to reach out to the "us-es." The film ends on this very powerful point. And perhaps this is why the film has broad appeal. It is not about a gay movement, a women's liberation, or black rights movement. The us-es are all of us who so easily fall into a group prone to grave injustices by political majorities. Similarly, as Martin Luther King Jr., said, "An injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere." Political movements are most successful when they are able to tap into this concept. This perhaps may be why Prop. 8 passed in California. It must not just be about a one problem. The rhetoric should center around why this argued injustice is antithetical to American principles of freedom, democracy, and rule of law.

I was so intrigued by the ensemble cast of characters that I did some research. As it turns out, Milk's partner, Scott Smith, was a essential to Milk's rise to power. The film does well in conveying their loving relationship. Harvey's political drive and charisma ultimately drove a wedge between he and Scott, but there was no denying that Scott was an intstrumental part of Milk's campaign. A woman on a website who knew Scott and Harvey commented on their relationship. She said that the saying is usually that behind every successful man, their is a good woman. But, she said in Harvey's case, it was Scott who was his driving force. The film did a sufficient job illustrating their relationship.

I was very much inspired by this film. But, maybe it's because I love politics. Maybe love is a strong word. Maybe I should say, "I love this game." For that's what politics is to me -- a sport or artform. Harvey Milk was a masterful politician, and that's why he is an "aristo-politico."