RETURN SIGNAL

IF YOU’RE AN ASTRONOMER SENDING A SIGNAL OUT INTO THE UNIVERSE IN HOPES OF FINDING INTELLIGENT LIFE AND YOU DON’T GET ANY SIGNAL BACK, THEN IT’S TIME TO POINT YOUR TRANSMITTER IN A DIFFERENT FUCKING DIRECTION.

SIMILARLY, IF YOU’RE ON YOUR PHONE TRYING TO CONNECT WITH PEOPLE IN THE MIDDLE OF A PANDEMIC AND ALL YOU’RE GETTING IS RADIO SILENCE IN RETURN, THEN IT’S TIME TO RECALIBRATE.

STRAIGHT UP. THIS IS WHERE I’M AT TODAY. WE’VE BEEN INSIDE FOR 11 MONTHS AND I’VE STILL GOT PEOPLE IN MY ORBIT BARELY SQUEAKING OUT ENOUGH LETTERS TO HIT THE REPLY LINE WITH A “LOL”. I’VE HAD LIKE 5 SIGNIFICANT CONVERSATIONS IN THE SPAN OF THE PAST YEAR WITH FOLKS OTHER THAN MY WIFE AND MY THERAPIST. AND TO BE QUITE FRANK THE REST HAS JUST FELT LIKE NOISE.

MOST ADVANCED COMMUNICATION DEVICES IN THE HISTORY OF CIVILIZATION AND WE’RE SWIMMING IN AN OCEAN OF RETWEETS, 3-LETTER ACRONYMS, AND COPY-PASTES OF OTHER PEOPLE’S REPOSTS.

READ SOMETHING, SYNTHESIZE A NEW THOUGHT, AND LET’S GET THE CONVERSATION GOING ALREADY, COTDAMMIT.

THE REAL DIVIDE ISN’T GOING TO BE BETWEEN THE HAVE’S AND HAVE NOT’S IN THE FUTURE….IT’S GOING TO BE BETWEEN THOSE THAT HAVE THE ABILITY TO ARTICULATE A GAME PLAN AND THE REST OF THE POPULATION THAT WOULD MUCH RATHER THROW UP A RETWEET IN APPROVAL OR AN ANGRY FACE EMOJI IN THE COMMENTS TO SHOW THEIR DISCONTENT.

WHERE THE REAL COMMUNICATORS AT?

HOLLER AT A SCHOLAR.

SENDING THIS SIGNAL OUT….

GIMME FIVE: MON, 1/25/21

I missed throwing down my Fives for the last 2 days, and I gotta say I probably didn’t sleep as well as a result. Or maybe it’s in my head. But then again, there are no rules here, and I–contrary to the old schoolyard line–actually AM the boss of me, so maybe I just didn’t need to throw down my Fives for the last 2 days. For whatever it’s worth, I do think gratitude helps steer my attitude, so let’s get this thankfulness train back on track:

  • Egg McMuffins: man, I woke up this morning with my mind set on “I MUST HAVE EGG McMUFFINS”, got in the car, went to the Woodruff location to cop, and came back home feeling quite accomplished. It’s truly a perfect sandwich. I actually like the Sausage McMuffin with Egg a little more, but that one is so much heavier that I’d rather have an Egg McMuffin with the Canadian bacon so that I can have a couple of sandwiches and feel like “yeah, what a solid breakfast” instead of having two Sausage McMuffins with Egg and feeling like “PLEASE NO ONE TALKE TO ME UNTIL AT LEAST 3:45PM”
  • the McDonald’s hashbrown: I guarantee you that no one was more heartbroken than I was when McDonald’s decided to faze out their All Day Breakfast and return to the normal 5am-10:30am routine that had me feeling like a maniac on mornings when at 10:12am I’d be mashing to the local McD’s trying to hit the line before they cut me off. Alas, Clint Eastwood made a movie about learning how to hit a curveball (I think that’s what it was about) and so in that spirit I’ve learned to make due. But there was NOTHING like being able on the late night to roll out in my sweatpants + Crocs, hit the drive-thru, and cop whatever I felt like while also being able to throw a hashbrown (okay, a pair of hashbrowns) in the mix with my order. The McDonald’s hashbrown is a rounded rectangle of perfection, and I think in 2021 I’m going to go out of my way to let them know how much I appreciate them for having held me down all these years. Also, did you know people actually break their hashbrown in half and insert them into their breakfast sandwiches?! I never knew that was a thing prior to today when I was reading up on general McDonald’s breakfast-related adventures that others have gone on…but I may try this one rather soon
  • having a job during a pandemic: I keep seeing the news about these second stimulus payments that may or may not get approved, and I can’t tell you how thankful I am to the big ball of energy above/around us that has allowed both Cil and I to have money coming in throughout the pandemic. For all my folks that are looking for work but are having a hard time, please don’t hesitate to hit me via email/voicemail (peep the “Contact Me” tab on the homepage) and I can help point you in the right direction if you need some help
  • being able to breathe deeply: when we were in the thick of Covid (Cil thankfully had milder symptoms but things got heavy for me for a 10-day window) and I literally thought I was a coughing fit away from being no longer on this planet, I remember being just so hungry to be able to breathe calmly. Not even deeply…I just wanted to be able to breathe in and breathe out without my lungs getting seized up. When I woke up on January 1st and DIDN’T have a morning coughing fit for the first time in 21 days, I was so thankful. And now as I sit here in the living room typing on my 2015 MacBook Air on this Honey Do turquoise green laptop desk, I’m just so cotdamn thankful to be able to–as one of my old teachers used to always tell us–INHALE DEEEEEEEP!
  • 6-foot long lightning charging cables: Anker makes the only charging cables and hubs that I’ll buy for the foreseeable future, but if they weren’t already the best I love that I can have 2 braided nylon 6-foot lightning charging cables plugged into a fast-charging dual-port Anker charging brick that can take my phone from like 27% to 80% in about half an hour. It truly is the little things, man. :]

SONG OF THE DAY: 2PAC FEAT. AMG + DJ QUIK – “LATE NIGHT

This song was on 2Pac’s “Better Dayz” compilation that was released in 2002 (6 years after his passing), but then for some reason the song was pulled from the album I imagine because they didn’t have clearance on the Donald Byrd “Wind Parade” sample that is oh so beautiful. Also the version that was on the original album release had The Outlaws handling the 2nd and 3rd verses instead of this version (which I enjoy way more) that has AMG on the 2nd verse and DJ Quik on the 3rd verse (and of course on production).

As you probably know by now, Quik is THE GREATEST hip-hop producer in my personal record book of music fandom, and the fact that he was able to find + pair this perfect Donald Byrd sample with Pac’s energetic vocals makes me a little sad when I think of what they could have done together had they had enough time to come together for a full album. And for what it’s worth, this song IS titled “Late Night” and I HAVE found that it is at least 46% more enjoyable when listened to on headphones in the dark during the late night hours.

However, what DOES make me happy is knowing that Quik did the mixdowns on that entire “All Eyez On Me” album (my favorite album of all-time) even if Suge jerked him out of his full production and mixing credits (because Suge is the devil). I’ve talked to other music heads who agree that the entire album is one of the greatest engineered/mixed albums–not just hip-hop but ALL genres–albums of all-time just because of how cotdamn CLEAN everything sounds, so well spaced-out, and the sound just envelops you when you listen to the album on good quality speakers or headphones. So although we never got a full Pac + Quik album, we still have the best Pac album brought to the highest levels of crisptivity (a word I just invented, please email me for permission to use in your own publications) thanks to the one and only David Marvin Blake aka The Quiksta.

(photo: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…THANK YOU QUIK)

GIMME FIVE: FRI, 1/22/21

I just ate like 5 oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and I just started watching “Brockmire” so I’m on a good one right now. Okay, let’s get into today’s Fives:

  • The joy in my nephews’ faces as I walked them through setting up their new badass gaming computer that we paid for half and the 16-year-old paid the other half for…I left them still waiting for Starcraft 2 and Hearts of Stone to download but maaan tomorrow once we get everything finally set up they are gonna be LOVIN life
  • Little Coyote pizza. Don’t even need to pick a specific item there that I love because every single thing on their menu is unfadeable.
  • Ricolas. I prolly had like 6 of them today but they’re helping battle this dry ass air
  • My Nike Jordan 1 SBB 1.0s. These being my first pair of Jordans ever, I love how this shoe hugs the foot, and the colorway may be my favorite colorway of any shoe I’ve ever owned.
  • These Champion sweats…in the most Montebello of moves, I bought like 3 pairs of these like a year ago but never wore them because I was “saving them” (for what, I have no idea). Anyways I was talking to my guy Big B and then thought “dude live your life” and decided to break out the sweats and my SBBs even though it was just to go to Costco. Every day is a blessing, man…might as well break out the nice sweats and get fly.

SONG OF THE DAY: ERIC B. & RAKIM – “JUICE (KNOW THE LEDGE)”

Like 3 years ago Cil said that if the aliens ever came and asked what hip-hop is, THIS would be the one song that she would play for them because this song has everything that makes hip-hop wonderful: razor sharp rhymes that sound like they could be battle raps, jazzy bassline, crisp live drums, fly sampling, scratching. This song is cotdamn PERFECT.

And ever since she shared that I’ve yet to think of a single song that checks all of those boxes better than this gem does.

I also learned like 10 minutes ago that Rakim is actually the person playing the drums live on this song, which makes The R even colder in my book.

Okay, let’s get into it:

GIMME FIVE: THURS, 1/21/21

Man, it was dry as hell today in Long Beach! My nose feels like a desert right now, and I’m pounding water and popping Ricolas trying to bring the moisture back to my airways.

Anyways, here’s today’s Fives:

  • the potato taco at Taco Nazo…the key is to order the cheese, shredded cabbage, and pico de gallo on the side so that the taco dorado stays crispy…the second key is also to just pull over as quickly as you can after leaving the pick-up line so that you can eat them joints fresh…some foods (actually most foods) are meant to be eaten fresh and simply can’t safely endure the drive back from the spot to your crib up the stairs and onto your dining table
  • tortas that don’t have thick bread…tried the carne asada torta at Taco Nazo today, and the meat was kinda burnt (since they use the chopped up taco meat instead of a large piece of flank) but I was nicely surprised that the bolillo they use for the bread was not too tall. So many times you order a torta and there’s a bunch of stuff inside and THEN you gotta deal with 2 inches of bread on both the top and bottom of your sandwich. It’s just not structurally sound. But Taco Nazo at least got the bread right on this one even if the meat wasn’t that good.
  • the sun not setting at 3pm…I mean, it’s still setting at 4:52pm right now, but it’s nice to have a bit more daylight as we inch towards more vaccines being distributed and life getting back to a happier rhythm (especially with the bozo and his crew now being out of office)
  • since we haven’t been able to see the kids due to quarantining, we miss having them here laughing and doing their regular comedy routines…but our neighbors have a 7-year-old and a 4-year-old and since it was little warmer today they’re currently out in the driveway chasing each other around and cracking each other up…it’s the not the same as having our little cubbies around us laughing, but it’s medicine for the soul just to hear kids laughing, man…one of the best sounds in the world!
  • that feeling of when you finish watching a show from front to back and now you have to pick your next viewing mission…SO MANY CHOICES! Do we finally hit the last season of Ozarks? Keep moving through Bob’s Burgers? Dive into the films of Ron Howard (which Cil recommended yesterday and actually sounds like a great idea since he always makes such solid movies)? I’ll keep you posted on this one…