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This Blogging Shit Is No Joke

by Jose Vilson on February 2, 2009

in Jose

Stalker

Stalker

Well, first, you’re going to have to excuse me for my terse language, but fuck it. If you’re subscribed, you know how I roll. The title of this post came from my reaction after reading a pair of prominent bloggers’ posts and almost made me jump out of my seat. Not because of the shock and awe so much as it’s like I’ve been telling people for almost 5 years now: this blogging shit is no joke.

I mentioned this in my top 10 omissions back in January 1st, but it’s worth repeating: people really don’t think that my writing translates into actual interactions with human beings. I’m not here hiding behind my desktop / laptop: I’m actually writing whatever it is I’m feeling, and whether that makes people laugh, cry, scream, clench their fists, or … feel any other tingling sensation, I know that I can back that up in person. I mean, as a writer, my main objective is for that human connection, and it’s helped me meet tons of people and given me plenty of opportunities, but it’s also made me see the ugliness that comes from my own “popularity.” (Whatever that word means).

I remember five years ago, when I just started blogging, and I had a few responses to my Xanga blog (OK, maybe more than some), some of my closest friends took exception to everything I wrote. Yes, sometimes I got a little personal, but even when I wrote something simple like “I want this for Christmas, it became an event like, “So you think people are actually going to give you these gifts?” Or even when I’d thank people for commenting, it was “Well, I don’t need to thank anyone, unlike other bloggers.” Huh? No. I’m just writing. Even into these days, while most of my friends and family members have thrown their support behind me, even they get confused about this personality I’ve developed online. Is this the Jose I knew from Xavier? Syracuse? A little after that?

Probably not.

This blog has been my mantelpiece of reflection, and has helped me grow by taking a mirror to me and saying, “Is that really what you look like?” But sometimes, people confuse that with something else. I personally can’t call it jealousy, but two situations recently told me a little differently.

First, from Necole Bitchie:

I’ve been getting alot of emails lately from people upset that I don’t respond to them in a timely manner (on facebook, myspace & twitter). My goal is to respond to everyone but my slow response is due to SPAM, most coming from independent artists. I try to listen to everything when I get a chance but some folks are relentless. Just yesterday alone, I made the mistake of responding back to an artist name Glendell and in a span of five minutes I received a total of 20 emails from him. I deleted each one but I logged into twitter later that day to see that he had sent me atleast 20 more messages. Dude, with the exception of this time, this is NOT the way to get your music played on a blog!! You are Deranged. You are CRAZY..now f*ck off! *

Read the rest of the blog. Now you have independent artists trying to come after bloggers’ throats because they want their record played? Really? People really take liberties with our lives. Yes, I get it: she’s a celebrity blogger so she’s always finding criticism with celebs. She should be able to get it too. Yet, there’s a part of me that, after reading the comments from the creep, made me feel like she may have been in danger for her life.

Don’t believe me? Michael Arrington of TechCrunch begs to differ:

Something very few people know: last year over the summer an off balance individual threatened to kill me and my family. He wasn’t very stealthy about it – he called our office number, sent me emails and even posted threats on his blog, so it wasn’t hard to determine who he was. The threats were, in the opinion of security experts we consulted, serious. The individual has a felony record and owns a gun. Police in three states became involved and we hired a personal security team to protect me, my family and TechCrunch employees.

Arrington’s post is a must-read for anyone blogging. Regardless of what writing niche you develop, when you become successful, whether the Internet or otherwise, things inevitably change, and sometimes in dramatic fashion. Maybe we need to rethink how we think about blogging, too.

Maybe.

Jose, whose gotten a full range of e-mails in his own right …

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A Design of Two Decades

by Jose Vilson on February 25, 2008

Janet Jackson in white

I have another confession to make, my people.I love Janet Jackson.

Yes, I’m not a fairweather fan. To the contrary, I’d even go so far as to say Janet was my first dream girl / girlfriend, even if she’s a decade or so my senior. Her songs always rocked my eardrum during the early years, when my only access to the outside world was MTV and Z100. I couldn’t even own any of her CDs or tapes until I went and got a little bit of money. By then, the first Janet album I ever got (and bought 2 copies of eventually) was Design of a Decade, the greatest greatest-hits album I’ve ever heard. I even had this to say a few years ago on the elder blog:

Songs like “Control” and “Pleasure Principle” make you feel independent, while songs like “Miss You Much” and “Let’s Wait a While” showcase the trials and tribulations of love and its derivatives. It goes from celebratory (“Alright“) to emotional (“Come Back To Me“), from chill (“That’s the Way Love Goes“) to freaky (“Twenty Foreplay“), from angry (“Black Cat” and “Rhythm Nation“) to cute (“When I Think Of You“) all in one album. It’s so sick.

I own every album after that, too, and also got two copies of janet., the best album she’s had to date, with all due respect to The Velvet Rope. I honestly couldn’t help but be enamored by her sweet sensuality, her energy, and her work ethic. Even if she didn’t have the strongest voice, she was going to kick everyone’s butt on stage and on a track. She also grew musically, becoming more mature in content and music, delving into her personal life, and still wearing sexy like no one else can. Despite anyone’s opinions about the plastic surgeries or the marriage issues she had, no one could ever deny that overall, she’s a beautiful lady, and she carries herself gracefully …

… Even in strife. Even as people questioned whether she’d ever get out of her brother Michael Jackson’s shadow (the song and video for “Scream” proved the affirmative). Despite a stellar single in “I Want You”  (produced by Kanye), Damita Jo didn’t do very well due to Boobgate (I’m only 70% over that incident), and 20 Y.O. fell through the cracks, even as her most observant and worshipping fans have become superstars themselves (here’s looking at you, Ciara, Britney, Usher, Chris Brown, etc.). Even with that crazy upbringing that produced Michael, she still managed to come out looking like the normal one.

So what’s a Janet fan to do when he’s waiting for that comeback? CD after CD, he buys, dedicated fully to the artist that provided the soundtrack for so many critical moments in his life through her personal experiences, and while he’s pleased with the product, everyone else calls it a failure. I’m not sure, but I’ll buy that new Janet, not for the new production / direction she’s taken with her music, or the awesome album cover for Discipline. Even naysayers have hope in the effort.

A toast to you, miss. Love would never do without you …

jose, who has no regrets about what he posts on here …

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Ewing and I

by Jose Vilson on January 31, 2008

Patrick Ewing, Arms Stretched Out

An idol.The biggest of superstars.

A warrior and a man all the same.

That sweet fade-away.

The sweat-drenched NY Knicks jersey, emblazoned with the number 33 in the back.

The custom sneakers.

The Georgetown alum with 2 gold medals, part of the historic Dream Team, 11-time All-Star, Rookie of the Year from 1985-86, sure Hall of Famer, and part of the NBA 50th anniversary’s All-Time Team.

The man who carried the most prominent franchise in one of the grandest stages in the world for over a decade.

No NBA championship rings. Thus, less respect.

Patrick Ewing is probably my favorite player from any sport ever. He symbolized everything the Knicks and NYC were for a decade and a 1/2. My thoughts turned to him after watching how he’s helped Dwight Howard develop into the monster MVP candidate he is. A little greyer and bereft of that signature flat-top with the notch in his hair, and a few pounds overweight, he still had that smile that reminded me why I became a Knicks fan to begin with. At the very least, you knew each night, he’d get up into that court and play his hardest. He helped instill that gritty, hard-nosed, defiant, me-against-the-world mentality many of us had laced into our DNA since child birth. Even in defeat, Knicks fans always felt we would have another run at another great season, and another championship run.

Yet, there are those who believe we shouldn’t be attached to celebrities and sports figures, asserting we don’t need to follow these idols. In many ways, I agree. Does Patrick Ewing care whether or not I follow him or not? Probably not. I still remember times when he would end up on the back pages of the Post (ugh!), the Times, or the Daily News, heckled on his own home floor mercilessly for his reactions to the lack of fan support. While he’s out drinking his high-priced alcohol in a big house with his plethora of stats and awards, I’m somewhere in an apartment writing about how much I love him as a sports figure.
That might be the reason why we idolize them in the first place. Kids from my neighborhood look at these Black and Latino men living their dreams out for millions to see and envision themselves doing likewise. Sports and other competitions for that matter are emblematic of the struggles the common man and woman face in real life. How interesting is it that we latch ourselves onto sports teams and players in the hopes that even as superficial and capitalist these victories seem, we too feel like we won or lost depending on the outcomes. Some of us hook ourselves onto these figures so much that they become part of our lives. Their struggles become ours. Their hardships become ours.

Even without the multimillion dollar price tag strung on these players’ ankles, we still see a little of ourselves in the players we witness so much. That’s why I write about Alex Rodriguez and expectations leveled on him, Patrick Ewing and his greatness contrasted with his shortcomings, or even The Rock’s ability to carry such braggadocio and still be considered the “People’s Champion.”

We can even extend that to the celebrities of today, from Denzel’s refined passion to Morgan Freeman’s mature wisdom. Even the recent death of Heath Ledger reminds people of the shortcomings and tragedies of a bright present and a brighter future. And I hate to say this, but I suspect that people follow Britney Spears as much to see whether she’ll get out of her misery than to witness her downfall. We cheer as much for comebacks as we do the underdog. We oscillate in adulation. People took 7-8 years to realize that Al Gore was the best choice for President (out of the 2-party system we have now), but people hated him for the same reasons they love him now, only he had 7 years to prove to everyone he was right.

The figures that certain populations decide to prop up are accurate representations of the ideas and feelings that society has about themselves. If we look at New York City in 1977, we can sum up NYC’s population with three people: Reggie Jackson, George Steinbrenner, and Billy Martin. Reggie represented Blacks’ and Latinos’ dreams of upward mobility (for more, see The Jeffersons circa 1975 – 1985). George Steinbrenner represented the cantankerous bosses NYC became renown for. And Billy Martin represented the working class people in NYC, struggling to keep their jobs in a recessive job market.

Patrick Ewing, thus, represented so much of what I grew up knowing about NYC, but more importantly about myself. I grew emotionally attached to his victories and losses as a kid, and haven’t been quite as passionate about anyone outside my home or classroom in ages. I can still remember how shocked I was to see him traded to the Seattle Sonics, and subsequently came back to beat the Knicks with 18 points and 10 rebounds, but time had already taken a toll on his weak knees and other joints. His run down the court was then a lumpy jog in some stranger’s uni.

While I watch my Knicks go through this miserable stretch, I wonder how they lost that edge that made the rest of the league hate the Knicks and make us love them. The Knicks these days have a few scrappy players (Lee, Balkman, Robinson, Crawford), but in general suit up sleep-inducing and lackluster players who, leadership included, have no common mission. They really look like they’d prefer to be at home than actually representing NYC’s grand basketball history properly. It’s like watching million dollar zombies out there. Then I look at the city the team is now, and I see the same can be said for many of the people who inhabit it now.

Fuck that. Bring back Patrick. Kneepads, missed finger rolls and all. I’d rather be a contender and lose than to have never had the chance.

jose, gave away his authentic Patrick Ewing jersey to my younger cousin after he got too big to fit in it, but definitely has the 15th anniversary Team USA Ewing jersey ready for all occasions …

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Kanye West on the Truman Show

November 19, 2007

Yes, I caught that Kanye West video of him crying in front of everyone at the Paris, France show. It was honestly one of the oddest things I’d ever seen in my life. According to sources, he only did the show because he wanted to fulfill contractual obligations, so he showed up. They played “Hey […]

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Leave Fame Alone

September 28, 2007

I recently saw one of the most disturbing videos of the year when I saw Chris Crocker (a.k.a. “Leave Britney Alone” guy) on MySpace, sobbing his eyes out as if he was channeling Spears’ soul himself. It was bananas. The mere fact that someone not even involved with Spears whatsoever can turn his angst and […]

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