So I’ve done some pop culture work, and some sports work, and some random work…but this blog just doesn’t seem to have much direction.  I’ll be honest, right now I’m lacking gumption and I need a muse.  Feels like I have no reason to write.  There’s so much for me to write about, but I’m just not feeling it…until now.  I have a direction for my blog.  It’ll be fodder for my book.  I’m going to talk sbout relationships.  Social relationships.  Interpersonal relationships.  The different stories that get presented to me and my take on them.  My stories (should I continue writing them) will pop up from time to time, as well as major pop culture issues and some political issues also.  But the new focus is the philosophy of interpersonal relationships and the problems they bring.  Hopefully while writing I’ll put together a philosophical doctrine of sorts….

Let’s see if I live up to the name Mr. Philosopher now.

David Sides – Piano Covers

If you haven’t seen David Sides, you’re tripping HARD.  He does covers for damn near any popular song out there completely on the piano, no singing or anything.  But he does it flawlessly and accurately.  His website, Twitter, and MySpace can give you more info, but here’s one piece I’m fond of that lets you know how solid he is on the keys.

When Is It OK To Sell Out?

Mr. Philosopher is a little worried.  A lot of his friends secured jobs that pay well.  They’ve got economic future within their grasp, provided that the economy doesn’t completely bottom out.  But all things considered, in my circle of friends who are recently out of college, I’m the odd man out.  It makes sense – in college I worked in the humanities, getting a degree in Philosophy and another in Spanish.  Most of these guys were Business Administration or Management type of guys, or Economics majors.  Either way, they were fast tracked to the wonderful world of capitalism and being financially independent.  Me?  I’m not so lucky yet…

I’m going to graduate school.  Lucky me, I got a full ride and a nice stipend.  Financially, I’m great for my 2 year program.  But I still have thousands in student loans I have to handle over the next God knows how many years, and I’m still on the fence regarding PhD work and professional philosophy.  So that puts me in a bind – stay in school by trying to get a PhD in Philosophy even though I might not want to, or go do something I don’t want to – get a 9 to 5.  I’ll do what I have to in order to maintain a roof over my head and food in my belly, but after watching a scene from John Q, I was hit with a certain moment.

In John Q, Denzel Washington plays the title character, a smalltown factory worker who scrapes together money for himself, his wife and young son.  The young son falls ill with a rare heart condition, and after his wife frantically yells at him to do something, John Quincy Archibald holds the hospital hostage until they get his son’s name to the top of the donor list.  While the movie has its moments, here’s the one that really got to me.  Denzel is standing over his son and is giving him life lessons.  And at one point he says that “life is a lot easier with money,” and that “it’s ok to sell out every now and then.”  Looking at the situation John Q was in, yeah, I’d want my kid to make money so he wouldn’t have to deal with that crap.  But the more I thought about that line, the more and more real it became.

So far I haven’t “sold out.”  I started a non-profit.  I worked with youth programming.  I haven’t entertained a thought about “working for Whitey,” getting a high paying job and forgetting about where I come from, so to speak.  But…after a few personal financial issues, and seeing people my age go through some financial issues, it’s become very real to me:  I may have just been avoiding the real world.  And that real world may just be to work a 9-5 because people don’t read as much as they used to unless it’s a blog or a damn Twitter feed.  The real world may just be that even though it’s not all about money, it’s still all about money.  And the real world may just be that until I figure out how to write killer novels/short stories/something, I’m screwed in this country and will be in financial peril.  So put yourself in John (or Jane) Q’s shoes and ask yourself this question:  When is it ok to sell out?

-Mr. Philosopher

Air McNair Dead…HBCUs lose their QB

Steve McNair - 1973-2009

Steve McNair - 1973-2009

First of all, I hope everybody had a fun and safe Fourth of July.  I got to go back home and spend time with my family, and boy do I miss them.  Secondly, some tragic news struck this weekend.  Steve McNair was killed, and all signs point to it being a murder-suicide.  First things first, a friend of mine said that McNair got what he deserved for cheating on his wife and that karma is a bitch.  While this whole girlfriend on the side thing is a shame, I’m pretty sure nobody deserves to die for cheating.  Otherwise there’d be plenty of men and women dead.

Secondly, I fondly remember McNair as the predominant black QB of the NFL before the big influx of the early 2000s.  When he was drafted by the Oilers, I wasn’t really into football.  But when I started getting into football (the magical 1999-2000 season), I had to take notice of this guy.  He was not just a QB, not just a black QB, but he was a damn good QB.  For what it’s worth, the then Titans had put some solid talent around him (Eddie George, Kevin Dyson, Frank Wycheck) and so he had weapons.  But he was a smart, solid, gutsy QB who took calculated risks with the football.  Not quite a game manager and not quite a gunslinger, he stood in between as a winner.

But his death marks the end of the HBCU QB making it to the NFL in style.  Len Pasquarelli of ESPN wrote a great piece about how McNair will probably be the last black QB to come from a HBCU in the 1st round of the NFL Draft. He notes that the black QBs that have been drafted recently come from the big programs (JaMarcus Russell – LSU.  Mike Vick – Virginia Tech.  Vince Young – Texas.) and that the smaller programs, schools like McNair’s alma mater Alcorn State, Grambling, Southern, even Howard just don’t end up creating that talent that the “big time” schools will.  His number of 5.5 draftees from the SIAC, SWAC and the MEAC per year speaks to the perceived lack of NFL talent at HBCUs.  Off of the top of my head, I can only think of two players from HBCUs who are worth talking about.   Antoine Bethea out of a HBCU (Howard) but the guy’s not at one of the “impact” positions (QB, RB, LB, DE and WR) so he doesn’t get as much talk as he should, and Tarvaris Jackson out of Alabama State.  Bethea was a 6th round pick; Jackson a 2nd round pick.  Jackson is probably the highest picked QB from a HBCU since McNair was 3rd overall.

As Pasquarelli says, talent can be found from any school any year.  But let’s be honest.  The SIAC or the SEC?  The MEAC or the Big 12?  Scouts tend to go to the bigger conferences where the competition is better.  And having witnessed a number of HBCU football contests personally, it’s a fun atmosphere (GO BUY THE BLACK COLLEGE FOOTBALL EXPERIENCE VIDEO GAME) but sometimes I wonder to myself if these guys could make it in the pros.  I don’t doubt anybody’s work ethic or desire, but the SIAC just ain’t the SEC.

Nevertheless, McNair and Doug Williams are the last two black college QBs to make great careers – Williams is a Super Bowl MVP and McNair took the Titans to their only Super Bowl while becoming the 3rd QB to throw for over 30,000 yards and rush for another 2,500.  Jackson is in a pivotal point in his career, amd I fear teams will shy away from HBCU QBs because of how Jackson has performed thus far.  I really, truly hope that McNair’s death hasn’t marked the death of the top HBCU QB draft pick, but in the 15 years since his historic draft, athletics has changed.  Black athletes have become the standard, and schools nationwide (well, except maybe Utah) clamor to have them in their football and basketball programs.  And top high school talent know that while there’s something great about being able to play in the Bayou Classic, there’s something even better about playing in the Sugar Bowl from a publicity standpoint.  HBCUs just don’t get the same exposure, and I certainly hope that one day soon HBCUs do make serious headlines in athletics so that the people playing hard out there and who deserve some national spotlight get some.

R.I.P., Air McNair, I really hope HBCU QBs didn’t die with you…