Sunday, July 27, 2014

All the Colors of the Rainbow

A few weeks back I was talking to a male friend about women, as men tend to do, and broached the topic of Nicki Minaj. Something along the lines of "Do you think she's hot?" This friend was of the “Caucasian persuasion” so I was expecting him to say “no” in regards to liking her. Ms. Minaj isn't everyone’s cup of tea and honestly, I’m not too keen on her myself. But it was the few words after his presupposed “no” that puzzled me. “I’m just not into Black chicks.”

"Just not into Black chicks?" I’ve heard White men say that to me all my life and it’s always been so crazy to me because beautiful is beautiful regardless of the color. I had to know more. “Oh you mean you don’t date Black women”, I said. “No. I’m just not into them" he retorted. “What you don’t find Black women attractive?” “Not really”, he said. To which I was even more abashed. “Are you gay”, I ask. “Of course not,” he declared with certainty. “But you’re telling me you have never found a single Black woman attractive. Like EVER?” He was quite. After an awkward moment, I spoke. “Racist.”

My friend clearly isn’t a racist, because he’s my friend but after rattling off a few names, like Haley Berry, Naomi Campbell, Megan Good, Tyra Banks, and even a young Pam Grier, I still got no. I named a few other women of color like Sofia Vergara, Jennifer Lopez, and Frida Pinto. Each of which he acknowledged was beautiful. At this point something was clear. If he could find these women of color “beautiful" but not the Black women then my friend had some underlying issues with Black people he hadn't worked through.

Not to sound like that "kind of guy", but I’ve dated a lot of women. I’m no Hugh Hefner but for a regular dude with no real money to speak of, I’ve done pretty well with the fairer sex over my 27 years. I’m confident, (Which is like 80% of “it”. Whatever “it” is anyway.) I look half decent. I’m straightforward and honest. (Which is like 10% of the remaining 20%. Women REALLY respect and appreciate honesty. Another 5% is listening. Not HEARING. But LISTENING. If you don't know the difference, then you're already a lost cause.) I’m charming and I do other “things” pretty well. Or so I’ve been told. (That other "thing" is that last 5%.)

I’ve never seen color in regards to women. I just see pretty or not pretty. That’s my “type”. Pretty. Looks aren’t the end all be all because as I’ve gotten older I’ve become more of a “sapiosexual.” (And ladies, if you don’t know what it means without using Google, we wouldn’t work.) I'll admit that most of the girls I've dated haven't been Black. And no, it's not because I can't "handle" a "real soul sista". You see my mother is one of ten kids. Which means I have a LARGE family. Which means I have a lot of cousins. Growing up I went to school with a lot of really pretty Black girls. And I was always told the same thing about those pretty Black girls. “Leave that girl alone! Boy them yo folks!” As in a lot of those pretty Black girls were my cousins.

So to combat the chance of developing a crush on a relative, I started to eye the girls in the class that didn’t have the same skin color as me. Girls that didn't have black hair and brown eyes like most Black girls tend to have. These instincts formed as a boy shaped how I see women as a man. That view, and my mother always encouraging me to love whomever I loved, skin color be damned, meant I didn't date a lot of Shaquittas or Shonadas. More like a lot of Beckys and Emilys.

Confession time. While most of the women I’ve dated haven’t been Black, I think Black women are the most beautiful group of women. Not the "average" girls but the women at that otherworldly level of beautiful. I'm saying if you took the best of the best from each race, in my opinion, Black women or women of or with some African descent are at the top of the food chain. And it's really not that close. I'm talking like Usain Bolt running the 100M dash in the Special Olympics not close. (Have you ever seen a baby mixed with Black and, NAME ANYTHING ELSE, and it not be cute?) In short, at every point in the history of the world, I feel like the most beautiful woman has more than likely NOT been a White woman. Beautiful Black women are REALLY beautiful. You've never seen a White woman described as "exotic" or "forbidden fruit."

I’m guessing the reason most men don’t date outside their race is because they believe a lot of the stereotypes about each race of women. As someone who’s dated White (all kinds Russian, American, British, Polish, etc), Black, Asian, Mexican, Colombian, Persian, etc, let me tell you which stereotypes are true…on average... and in my experience of course. (Note: I’m only comparing Black, White, and Latina women.)

- White women are the freakiest. If there’s a group of 10 White women, 8 are freaks.  If there are 10 Latina women, 6 are freaks. A group of 10 Black women, 3 are freaks but boy oh boy those 3! Those 3 are like 8 White girls!

- Black women don’t do oral sex, but the ones that do are usually the best at it. It's the lips.

- Latina women have the worst tempers. Black women are a close second.

- White women are the most loyal. White women that date Black men anyway. If you’re dating a White woman, as a Black man, in my experience, they’ll run through a brick wall for you. They'll go without if it means helping you. And you’d pretty much have to throw them off a bridge to get them to break up with you.

- Black women talk the most shit. Anything they could say in an effort to get you to smack them or at least REALLY want to, they’ll say it. It’s nothing for a Black woman to say the cruelest shit imaginable when they’re pissed off. Their words cut the deepest when they want to. Your mom, kids (if you have kids with other woman), super embarrassing stories, your special needs sibling. Nothing's off limits.

- Black women age the best. Latina and White about the same. (Asians the worst.)

- White women typically don’t have butts. Black women have the most.

- Latina women “double-dip” the most. (Double-Dip: Combination of having BOTH big boobs and big butt.)

I know what you're thinking. Which race is the best at sex? No one race is better at sex than the other. AGAIN, in my experience anyway. Quality of sex for women is more of a "per person" kind of thing. 

Let’s say women are like all the different elements of nature. Beaches, forests, swamps, mountains ranges, canyons, deserts, and so and so forth. The Grand Canyon is beautiful. The Redwood National Park is beautiful. The Rocky Mountains are beautiful. The Florida Everglades are beautiful. The Sierra Desert is beautiful. Laguna Beach is beautiful. Different forms of nature, but all beautiful and you can like one over the other. To each his own, but to claim you "love" nature and you "understand" it’s beauty but not be able to at least find the beauty in mountains ranges just doesn’t seem right. Maybe you don't "love" nature after all.

In this same analogy, let’s say Black women are mountains, and I only say that because I think the most impressive thing in nature is a mountain and because I said Black women are most beautiful. Let's say White women are beaches. Grace Bay in Turks and Caicos is the most beautiful beach in the world but I'm still more awestruck at Mt. Everest. For all their beauty, and while I admire them more, that doesn’t mean I wanna go climb a mountain every weekend. Sometimes... I'd rather lay out on a beach.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Twisted Confessions and Atramentous Musings of A "Broke" Writer (The Gatekeepers)

I'm honestly not sure why I continue to write this. I mean when I write about sports or movies and surprisingly racism, tons of people read my blog. Judging by the numbers from this "riveting and long running series" I'd say the only people who actually read these things are me, myself only to make corrections to my atrocious grammar, and my mother because she's supports anything I do and because well, she's my mother and she supports anything I do. Thanks for reading this mom because I know you are.

Anyway, I write these pieces for three reasons. One, to give all the people that say my job is so "glamorous" a look behind the "proverbial" velvet rope. (Frankly it isn't that glamorous. Well I got to meet Cuba Gooding Jr. and Turtle from Entourage yesterday as of the original posting so this doesn't suck all the time) Two, to give advice to friends looking to get into the business and/or give advice to friends already in the business. And three, and mostly, to get my thoughts out because God forbid I'm stuck alone with them.

A couple of months back I got a chance to be in a writer's room and it was easily the greatest job I've ever had. It took all of three seconds on my first day there to confirm that this, writing for film/TV, is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Monday through Friday for about three months, I got to sit in an office, watch six guys  talk shit, tell jokes in funny voices and laugh my ass off. Really? This was work? I was hooked.
Group photo of the writer's room as drawn by Jordan.

One of my weekly tasks as the writer's PA included picking up and mailing out our writer's room payroll. It came sealed in a large manila envelope and was filled with all the checks. The checks were separated by writers and everyone else. Each group of checks had an expense sheet paper clipped to it that detailed, down to the last cent I might add, what each group was making. Since it was my job, it wasn't like I had to snoop to figure out what these guys made. (Now I won't reveal the exact figures because I feel like giving you that much detail would be kind of unprofessional and there's really no need to know the number but I will say this... it was big.)

Myself and the writer's assistant made practically nothing. Seriously for the amount of hours we were putting in we really weren't getting paid enough, but then again we were getting paid to sit in a room for 12 hours and watch six guys dick around so it's still not bad work if you can get it. But what the six writers made combined was so massive, I became physically ill after I saw it for the first time. I'm not joking. That's not a lie. That's not a typo. I literally became physically ill. I had to sit in my car for a good 20 minutes. 10 just staring at the number to make sure I wasn't hallucinating and the other 10 to compose myself for the 45 minute drive in rush hour traffic from Burbank back to Hollywood. Needless to say, the rest of that day kind of sucked.

Eventually I got over it, continued my work and it was no big deal, but after seeing how much writers really made I've lost all patience for the "grind". (The grind is a term to describe the process of working in the film/TV business.) I've always been told that this is a business that takes a lot of hardwork, a little bit of luck and even more time. I've only been in a LA a year and some change, almost two in fact and here have been people that have been out here for five, ten, fifteen years before they get a break. Anytime I say "I should be doing this or that", people look at me, laugh and say "Paris, you're doing just fine. For someone that's been out here only a year, you're actually doing quite well." You couldn't tell me that but apparently I'm "doing just fine" so I guess I shouldn't start panicking... yet. But seeing those checks left me with the patience of a child waiting for dessert after peeking into the oven at nearly baked cookies. I mean I can hardly contain myself anymore.

How do I get there? What do I do? What do I need? I've always said, the only shortcut to success is nepotism. Since my uncles and aunts last names are Lay and not Bay, in this business you need to be with a "gatekeeper". You have to be in a union or with an agent. Getting in the union is the ultimate "Catch 22." It's like wanting to start a chicken farm. You go to a farmer and say, "I want to start a chicken farm. I need a chicken. Give me a chicken!" The farmer declares, "You don't need an chicken. You need an egg." "Ok. I need an egg. Where do I get an egg?" He replies, "A chicken of course." To get into the union you have to work a certain amount days and hours on an union show but to work on an union show, YOU NEED TO BE IN THE FUCKING UNION! I think I'll pass on this particular circle jerk thank you.

The other gatekeepers are agents and you can't do shit in this town without one. Agents, in theory, don't get paid until you get paid. So in a way they're agreeing to working for free. Having an agent tells people something about you. It's like the agent saying, "I believe in this person so much I'm welling to work for them for free for a bit because I know it's going to lead to a bunch of money one day." It validates you. And anyone looking to do business with you knows you're serious. (An agent doesn't mean you have talent because there are TONS of shitty people that have agents.)

So now I'm at that stage. Trying to get a gatekeeper. I'm working on a few projects that I really believe in and I've been sending emails and I feel really close but nothing so far. I'll close this with a Facebook status I posted a few weeks back because it fits and I'm lazy and don't feel like coming up with something "poignant" right now.

"This "shit" isn't for the weak of heart or mind. The business of film, especially the creative side here in California, is overcrowded, unrealistic, hypercompetitive and about as "stable" as a nine month old taking their first steps on ice. But the pot at the end of this rainbow is unlike anything I've seen. This business is filled with countless stories of people that finally broke through when it all seemed over.

It's that fact alone that makes me get up everyday and say, "Why not me?" When I lay down tonight I'm going to do what I always do. Thank God for my health, for my family's health. For feeding me and my kids. For job opportunities for my friends and I. And when I wake up I'm gonna think the same thing I did the day before, "Why not me?" "

Friday, July 11, 2014

You Can ALWAYS Go Home

The King Returns

LeBron James is going home. Today he announced his return to the Cleveland Cavilers via a beautifully penned open letter on My first feeling, oddly enough, was total shock. Friends had been asking me what I thought he’d do and my gut always said he's going back to Cleveland, but just reading the news was still a bit surprising. Not only does this change the entire landscape of the NBA, but it "rights" one of the greatest "wrongs" in sports. The Decision.

Four years ago when James left, I was one of the few people that didn’t get upset. It was, at the time, the right move. The only problem I had was how he did it. I looked at it like this; doctors, lawyers, contractors, accountants all leave one job to go to another job with better opportunities. Hell, the fry cook from McDonalds goes to Burger King because they pay him fifty cent more! The NBA should be even more mobile than it is.

These guys have 5 to 10 years, 15 if you’re REALLY great, to accomplish the ultimate goal in their profession. If I were a really great NBA player my goal would be to maximize my chances of winning a NBA championship every year. Because no matter how good your season is, only one team goes home truly happy every year. You, me, and everyone else not a professional (keyword PROFESSIONAL as in get paid to do it because it's a job) athlete, has a much longer window to do their given trade. Imagine if you only could do your job for 10 years. What if Steven Spielberg could only have made movies for 10 years? If you had such a small time in a career field, wouldn’t you do everything you could to be in the best possible position to have success?

LeBron did all he could do in Miami. Four years, four straight Finals, and two titles. Miami was a city that more than willingly accepted/welcomed him, but in Cleveland LeBron is beloved. Miami and its fans never really appreciated LeBron or his greatness. Like game six of the 2013 NBA Finals. Half the stadium walks out when the Heat looked like they were down for the count. They, Heat “fans”, quit on the team. They quit on LeBron. If that was game six in Cleveland, they would NEVER do that. This season, in game five when the Spurs were gutting Miami, again the fans dipped. Cleveland never does that. They stay and they cheer a two-time champion that took them to four straight finals. Cleveland would understand that yes they lost, but you stay and give them thanks. That you cheer for a team that gave you such joy.
Irving and James will be just two of the four number
one draft picks on the same team that drafted them.
Bennett & Wiggins are the other number one draft picks of the Cavs.
James is a better player, a better man than he was when he left Cleveland. He said as much himself in the letter. I'd even say Cleveland is better because he left. They got THREE number one draft picks because of his exit. And two other lottery picks. I don’t think the Cavs win the title next season. Not sure they can get that far with their current roster. Now if Cleveland is able to land Kevin Love and pair him with James and Kyrie Irving, then yes, they become INSTANT title favorites.

In life you don’t get too many second chances. I mean you just don’t. Once you screw something up, it usually stays that way. But when you're given the chance to do it over. To do it right. When you do, you take advantage of that chance. This is a great day in sports history. Not just for Cleveland but for us all. Sometimes sports is about something more. Something more than money. More than titles even. Sometimes it's about what makes you happy. Sometimes it’s about what’s right. “I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one,” James said. “And I take that very serious.” he continued. Outside of Miami, (And even they can't be too upset about this) how can you hate that? How can you be mad at that? How can you be mad at a guy trying to make it right? This is proof that no matter what you do and no matter how you leave, you can always go home.