29 November 2010

Poetically Placed F-Bombs

Spun the elliptical trainer to Dr Dre's "Deeez Nuuuts" this morning at the gym.

Chiggie check... Microphone check one. Now I can't get "I can't be faded" out of my head this morning.

[comedy skit from Deeez Nuuuts]
"If I had some nuts, hangin on the walls, what did I have honey?"
I said, "Darling you'd have some walnuts."
She said, "Well.. daddy if I had some nuts on my chest, would those be chestnuts?"
I said, "Hell yes!"
She said, "Well daddy if I had nuts under my chin would those be chin-nuts?"
I said, "Hell no bitch you'd have a dick in your mouth!"

Since emerging in the South Bronx, hip hop has spread around the world.  Knowing I like repetitive beats, raw language, and poetry, I owe a debt of gratitude to my kids for introducing me to hip hop over a series of family car trips over the years.

Hip hop is my kid's generation answering my generation's soul music. To describe hip hop to my generation, I would first tell them to recall Little Anthony & The Imperials singing Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko-Ko-Bop.

Then I would point out to them that if you added raw and compelling lyrics to Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko-Ko-Bop, and threw in a modest amount of poetically placed f-bombs, you'd have hip hop in its West Coast gangsta flavor.

08 November 2010

Painted Ponies Go Up and Down

I’m a serious person. But the gods of hubris should taze my sorry ass the instant I take myself seriously. And for the matter, the gods of the patronizingly dogmatic should electroshock my super-sized melon if ever I conclude that life has a purpose other than monkey-humping procreation.

I have a hunch about why so many societies have faith in unseen magical powers. I, for one, like to imagine unseen magical powers.

I think about concepts like god, or concepts like the fundamental constituents of matter, but that's as far as reason permits me to go.

It's not that the ancient texts extolling the virtues of one prophet over another -- obviously created second-hand by humans -- aren't convincing as convenient and comforting truth. But divine? Meh.

It's deeper -- DNA deeper.

My hunch is that humans are genetically predisposed to believe in the divine. At some point, humans started burying their dead. It became a comforting ritual -- an offering to the gods.

Burying a corpse effectively stunts any disease vectors emanating from rotting flesh and coagulating blood. The buriers of corpses - those who contemplated a higher power - were naturally selected to survive societies without burial rituals.

A Carousel of Time

We can't return. We can only look behind from where we came. Which brings me to painted ponies and a sweet but profound tune by Joni Mitchell:
We're captive on the carousel of time
We can't return, we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and 'round and 'round
In the circle game

   ~Joni Mitchell, The Circle Game

Twenty-Something Epiphany

At an age of twenty-something, I realized our lives are an absurd but infinitely interesting carousel ride. After that, I saw the painted ponies go up and down with renewed vigor.

01 November 2010

A Business for People

Yvon Chouinard's Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman reads like marketing copy for his outdoor equipment company Patagonia.

Yet Chouinard's guiding principles are inspiring. Through Patagonia, he has demonstrated it is possible to be a force for the common good in business.

Reading Chouinard's biographical account of the evolution of his company, I wondered if it could have possibly been THAT cool to work at Patagonia. Then I remembered a talented designer I knew at Montana State in the late 1970s who became Patagonia's chief designer for a chunk of years in the 90s.

An adventurer and a craftsman, this Spanish Peaks backpacking buddy I knew in college wouldn't have suffered buttoned-downed, ass clowns for very long. Patagonia draws talented people of uncompromising standards who are much more grounded in the why, then the how.

The essential question anyone in business should be asking is why? Chouinard's why is the natural environment and the animals that populate it - including the human animal.

Yvon Chouinard has learned, on the fly, how to run a big company with people in mind -- employees and customers. Keeping people in mind seems obvious, yet in my experience most organizations don't give a rip about their people, their partners, or their customers; rather their singular quest seems to be the how, as in how to increase profits?

Tweetable Quotes

My favorite quotes from Let My People Go Surfing:

On entrepreneurs, he says,
If you want to understand the entrepreneur, study the juvenile delinquent. The delinquent is saying with his actions, "This sucks. I'm going to do my own thing.
~Yvon Chouinard
Using the patently Uncurious George (George W. Bush) as the poster boy for the simple-minded, he says,
Un-curious people do not lead examined lives; they cannot see causes that lie deeper than the surface."
~Yvon Chouinard
Of the mess human animals have made of the environment, he says,
No animal is so stupid and greedy as to foul its own nest -- except humans.
~Yvon Chouinard
Finally, in a call to action, Chouinard quotes indigenous wisdom:
We are the people we have been waiting for.
~Navajo Medicine Man