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The Commodore Shoots: 12/8/08

Nikon FM10 Nikkor 35-70mm f/3.5-4.8 lens

ISO 400

Fort Greene Park, with model Chelsey and Walt Whitman

Independence and Morality

Listen to this on the way to work!

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The question of morality and being a better individual.

With so many vices at our disposal and their proliferation more accepted, it is difficult for even the most dedicated of young urban philosopher to withstand the assault. We laugh in the spectacle of celebrity debauchery, and subconsciously mimic their behavior. So the question is this: Will a purge of unessential social crutches like consumer electronics allow us to see clearly the truth of morality and reason? If we shun high definition television, step away from 24/7 computer engagement, and shock people with an inability to immediately communicate with us—are we left with an essential self who is independent, and therefore morally righteous? To quote Cicero's Discussion at Tusculum, “The whole point of morality is its independence.” I think we would be hard pressed to say that we are independent, in any sort of way, from what we are provided in our consumer culture. An example:

“So say you go about this whole getting rid of your cell phone thing. Say we go to meet up for a movie and I'm on the 2nd floor and you're on the first. I can't call you and find out where you are. And we don't see the movie just because you didn't have a cell phone.”

This was the argument a colleague of mine used against my renunciation of cell phone use. In his thinking, the necessity of cell phones illustrated the very point I intend to make—we cannot be happy people when we rely on inanimate objects. Somehow, sometime, we lost our ability to navigate our social lives without mobile phones. I would submit that the further we go down this path, the more we distance ourselves from being able to be happy people. Epictetus remarked, “If it's freedom you seek, then wish nothing and shun nothing that depends on others, or you will always be a helpless slave.”

To me, freedom is happiness. Cell phones rot that freedom.

When our social lives depend on these abstract devices that serve no real purpose other than to muddle what should be no more complicated than, “Meet me at 9:00 in front of the theater I will be outside,” we jeopardize our own happiness and independence.

It's happening already: Independence from these machines is unthinkable. And that's if we voluntary remove ourselves from its grasp. What then if an individual is expectantly removed? Say you're road tripping through the Utah mountains at 2am and your GPS cuts outs. Do you know how to read a map? Is there even one in the car?

Morality is Independence. Independence is happiness. Cell phones are not.

Simply put, by The Commodore

On Sneakerheads and Hypebeasts

A dedicated cult of street oriented fashionista's pile into a boutique shoe store in a hip part of town. Nostalgic t-shirts with references to the hip-hop culture of yesteryear, usually with a disposition to more gangster oriented artists line the clothing racks. An Asian, a white guy with tattoo's, and a brotha stand around disengaged. These are the owners and their arrogance is warranted. Like Nino Brown said, “They'll be loyal customers, if not, fuck it, it'll be like in beiruit, they'll be live in hostages.”

And hostages they are.

Slaves to their appetite. Duped into thinking they're asserting their individuality by purchasing the latest sneaker. To some degree, within their smaller groups of friends they might actually achieve that desired individuality. But with their skateboards and dunks, a council of advertising executes applaud one another on once again making the fringe counter-culture, a bankable asset.

So what do we do about these blatant attempts to cash in on our desires to be individuals? Let us look to Thomas More's hypothetical perfect society "Utopia". The children from an early age are given gaudy baubles and trinkets as playthings. The idea being they will naturally outgrow a desire for them. Similar to how we give up our G.I. Joe action figures or Sonic the Hedgehog doll you cried over in front of KB Toys, only to have your mother refuse to buy it, but elaborately deceive you by giving it to you in the morning as a present. Why would she do that?

How do we Vaccinate against empty products pandering to our genuine hopes and dreams? Here's what the Utopian did for their children:

"They gather do not look for them...when they have found some by chance...they use them to deck out their infants, who are boastful and proud of such gems in their earliest childhood but, as they get a little older and notice that such trinkets are worn only by children, they become ashamed of them of their own accord and, with no urging from their parents, they give them up just as our children discard their baubles, necklaces, and dolls when they grow up."

In our world though, this already occurs and it does not work. Adults dress like children, and children emulate the shallow role models they see on TV. Still, the logic of More's argument is sound. It simply needs a modern reinterpretation. How can Thomas More's logic of devaluing trivial commodities apply? Solution: Give Scholars, Educators, and Civil Servants our Trinkets.

Our putrid society values these superfluous items and the moral bankruptcy of our celebrities. So giving a criminal like, Suge Knight, diamond studded sneakers or making urinals out of gold would just amuse the unvaccinated masses.

The modern solution then, is to give these trivialities to the people who don't get the respect they deserve. Twelve year olds aspire to be like the rappers on MTV and bimbos on The Hills because of the (fabricated) decadent lifestyle they purport to live. Give the people who deserve the attention these gaudy trinkets. For example, if college Professors started wearing hi-top Nikes one of two things would happen:

1. Students consider these counter-culture items suddenly “uncool.” Nike readjusts and goes after another fringe trend. Rinse, repeat.

2. Students, seeing their custodian of knowledge dressing like media celebrities, shift their aspirational energies to being like people of societal worth.

It's a win win situation. Win win.

- The Commodore

In Defense of The Walk A Mile in Her Shoes Campaign

When Feminists Go Wrong.

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The Walk a Mile in Her Shoes campaign's mission is to, “Inform the world of the valuable contributions men are making to stop sexualized violence. We are here to help link, coordinate and publicize worldwide efforts to organize Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® Walks for the purposes of educating the community and raising money for local rape crisis centers.”

Kelsey Wallace from BITCH Magazine apparently has a problem with this. She remarks in an article on the magazines website that, “I just can’t get past the tone of the campaign, which trivializes women’s experiences with violence and puts the focus on the so-called “amazing” sacrifice being made by men who put on a pair of heels for 20 minutes. Do these men want a congratulatory pat on the back?”

I'm reluctant to say her statement is reflective of the problem with feminism. But, her statement is reflective of the problem with feminism. Blinded by vanity and the veil of the illusory superiority of goddess earth and mother gaia or what have you, Ms. Wallace is saying thanks but no thanks to the earnest efforts of everyday men who are seeking to rectify a wrong.

Ms. Wallace continues with, “While claiming to raise awareness and support for domestic violence issues, this campaign is actually inadvertently reinforcing the gender norms that make domestic violence such a problem in the first place. The men in the calendar (all shown being very, very manly) are given the spotlight, and they use it to mock women’s experiences by wearing something (high heels) that represents the subjugation of women by a sexist culture.”

High heels represent the subjugation of women by a sexist culture. For the love of GOD does anything get read before its published at this magazine? To be clear, the origins of high heels can be traced back to the wife of the Duke of Orleans, Catherine de Medici, who commissioned a cobbler to produce a pair of heels for her, both for fashion, and to increase her stature. Sounds very subjugating indeed, Ms. Wallace.

Finally, Ms. Wallace at BITCH Magazine is upset because men, “use [high heels] to mock women...” and that apparently trivializes the issue of domestic violence. Her argument is flawed because she is fixated on a variable aspect of the campaign. These men could be wearing garter belts, mini skirts, or have tampons shoved up their rectums—it does not matter. As old Marcus Tullius Cicero said, “It's the substance, not the form.”

It must have been a slow news day in the world of disgruntled women and she saw this fund raiser organized by the enemy (READ: Men) as something to throw to her ravenous she-readers.

I support universal equality for all human beings, but when it splinters off into bitter gangs of the indignant and self-righteous, it is the victims of inequality that suffer.

- The Commodore

An Unrequited Love

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Of Decency and the Williamsburg Scumbag

Don't take it personally, it's just Business.

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Walking up Bedford Ave. on Halloween, I notice a crowd of skinny jeans, tattoos and poor posture at the corner. One of the carbon copies is drinking freely from a bottle of Ketel One Vodka. I politely remind him that doing so is illegal.

Hostility and resentment flash across his face. He replies with a simple sarcastic, “Right…”

I continue along arguing with myself about whether or not I’m too uptight. Still, something doesn’t feel right about the general atmosphere. This isn’t reality. Their unwashed t-shirts hang from their glamorously emaciated torsos. Dutifully rugged facial hair hides unsure expressions of emotion. The flare of illuminated cigarettes light up the dark of the evening like Jawa eyes in the dunes of Tattooine. None of these observations are illegal, of course. However, they lend themselves to a common idea of refuting what it is to be a decent citizen of New York City.

I enter a bar and stand around studying them. Squatting beside me are three girls with fashion mullets shooting dice. Just like the stereotype you see in Law & Order when the detectives go to question black drug dealers in Harlem, except horribly warped. I couldn’t believe my eyes, so I ask aloud, “Are you shooting dice?” Each player looked up at me with a coy grin as if to say, “Yeah. Aren’t we badass?” Emulating the vice that the legitimately destitute turn to for solace, makes for a fun evening in Williamsburg, I suppose.

Now, my discontent does not lay with these individuals disregard for the law and propriety. It is with why they feel comfortable displaying these lascivious act with impunity. In the calm poverty of downtown Poughkeepsie, I’ve seen the homeless (more well dressed than my Williamsburg subjects, I must add) exercise more discretion.

Where does this emboldened sense of repudiating common decent behavior come from? J. Orin Oliphant of the Pacific Northwest Quarterly remarked, “If a community starts under the auspices of the saloon, the gambling table, the brothel, the tendency is downward, and these influences are hard to eradicate.” This problem isn’t specifically a Williamsburg issue. It is one that is endemic to all neighborhoods in any city that lack suitable establishments for off-setting idleness and vice.

The problem is two fold:

First, the cultural supports of these communities are based on amusements that should be enjoyed, at best, in moderation. According to, within a 1 mile radius of North 8th street in Brooklyn, there are roughly 240 bars or similar establishments. A search for “art” in the same area yields 40 results, input “gallery” and 13 results come up. What other option does the Williamsburg Scumbag have?

Secondly, the dwindling local ownership of media adversely affects our disposition towards decency. As a result, there are fewer and fewer public arbiters of sophistication, decency, grace. Most broadcast media (television and radio) and the music industry (record labels, distributors, promotion, and retail) are under control of one of 10 major media conglomerates. Epictetus, as interpreted by Sharon Labell remarked, “Most of what passes for legitimate entertainment is inferior or foolish and only caters to or exploits people’s weaknesses.” With limited access to cultural enrichment and homogenized mass media bombarding them, many minds fall victim to the seduction of morally bankrupt false idols.

Knowing no sense of self-restraint in an age of immediate gratification, our generation slowly bends towards personal corruption. Huddled around bongs and cheep beer in apartments throughout the boroughs, we derive importance and meaning by becoming slaves to our passions which writer and priest, Baltasar Gracian describes as being, “humors of the spirit, and their every excess makes the mind sick.” Our failing is that we, the youth, don’t have an understanding of what is to be gained by living more decently.

It is this author’s mission to illustrate that understanding.

- The Commodore

Surprise! Black People Didn't Support Same-sex Marriage. Here's Why.

Read and or Listen.

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Surprise! Black people didn't support same-sex marriage. Here's why.

Obama Supporters who voted against Proposition 8 have a lot to learn about the nature of the African-American community. Defeating racial intolerance by electing Barack Obama does not equate defeating homophobia, as far as African-Americans are concerned. According to exit polls for The Associate Press,”California's black and Latino voters, who turned out in droves for Barack Obama, also provided key support in favor of the state's same-sex marriage ban. Seven in 10 black voters backed a successful ballot measure to overturn the California Supreme Court's May decision allowing same-sex marriage.” The common argument, as expressed by one same-sex marriage supporter at a Chicago rally for Obama, that “People don't seem to realize it's all the same thing. An African-American being elected is all part of equal rights that also apply to the gay community.” The implication here smacks of a spiteful “Hey we elected your guy, now help us out” attitude.

But consider the African-American community objectively. Enduring years of economic hardship and institutionalized racism, you would expect they'd feel empathy for another disenfranchised group of people. But as Richard Thompson Ford, a law professor at Stanford University put it, “Sure, we could call two married men "husbands" and two married women "wives," but the specific role for each sex that now defines marriage would be lost. Widespread opposition to same-sex marriage might reflect a desire to hang on to these distinctive sex roles rather than vicious anti-gay bigotry. By wistfully invoking the analogy to racism, same-sex marriage proponents risk misreading a large (and potentially movable) group of voters who care about sex difference more than about sexual orientation.”

So my suggestion to those against proposition 8 is to look at this as less a personal attack, and more a reflexive response of a community that is heavily grounded in tradition. Another concession, is that the adverse socio-economic conditions and homogeneous nature of many African-American communities leaves very little room for discussing alternative lifestyles. The barbershop is not your local juice bar. Do the math and focus your energy on the Mormons.

- The Commodore

Photograph of gay pride demonstrators support Barack Obama in California by David McNew/Getty Images.

The Obama Administration Needs Ruthless Yuppies

Where my filofax?

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Gossip Girl is Not Change We Can Believe In

No We Won't.

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A Brief Love Test

I am really terrible with women.

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The Search for Wis.DM

A project I conned a social networking website into paying me to do.

Dramatic Occurences

The Best Actor

Gym Class Heroes Support AIDS?


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Analog Beauty - Eileen Collins

A brief profile of USAF Colonel, (Ret.) Eileen Collins.

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Dirty Sexy Media Poem

A poem.

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Adventures in Vanity

A typical day of me on the set of a commercial.

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I'm Sorry

An excerpt from a fictional world I've been creating in my head.

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Good Fuck.

I heard...

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Spandex Booty

Keep it classy ladies.

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On Lesbians - Curve Magazine

An exploration of one lesbian publication, Curve Magazine.

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Greed Works