Why We Create



I am a collector of useful quotes. To me, there is nothing like seeing something in writing that takes your random thoughts, feelings & emotions and streamlines them into a clever line of text for you to reference when difficult situations rear their ugly head.

A few of my favorites, for my own personal reasons, include:

"Never make someone a priority who is only making you an option."

"If you stay in one place long enough, you become that place."

and

"For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction."

And while each of these is useful in their own way, and can be beneficial given the right location and setting, the 3rd applies to nearly everything we do, because everything we're doing is, in a sense, an action.

What I think many of us don't realize, however, is that an action does not neccesarily need to be a physical event. A thought can be an action. Study the effects of the subconscious mind on the body and you will see this very quote in action time and time again.

Our bodily actions are in fact not actions at all. They are reactions to signals sent by our brain. If you're hungry, then you eat. If you're thirsty, then you drink. If you're angry... Well, that depends on who you are. Just bring adequate bail money.

So with that being said, I ask you: Why do we create?

While not everyone is of the creative mindset, of course, there is an overwhelming amount of people who draw, jot down poems, write, sing, etc. All different avenues, but all creative endeavours.

And while I'm sure there are artists of every genre that pick up a pen, microphone or camera for every reason imaginable, I think the primary reason is releasal. One look at Hollywood exposes the dark underbelly behind the beauty of creation. Drug addictions, mental breakdowns & suicides seem to run rampant among the realities of those that attempt to create their own.

We all have our wants, wishes & desires, but there is only so much we can accomplish in the real world. The creative type seems to be the person that wants to create a reality not viable for them otherwise. And by this I don't mean it has to be a world of dragons and castles and magic. It could simply be that an abused female wants to create a world where she is in control, or a shy member of the drama club wants to be the popular quarterback. We might not title the characters as ourselves, but they are truly a reflection of us. How else would we know what to write? We cannot write about something we haven't experienced, or else it will not be accurate.

Creative types seem to often be much more unstable in this world than in their created ones. And it is usually because they have chosen to put the majority of their attention and focus into that which they've created for themselves. This is the world that matters to them.

Or... Should I say us. As I stated above, we cannot write about something we haven't experienced. I leave it up to common sense and reasoning that you can draw the connection between myself and this article.

We write to alter our reality, fix what cannnot be fixed, and right our wrongs. To some it may seem laughable. To us, it's essential.

I gave up long ago on caring about how people react to it. It's the ultimate form of "putting yourself out there", and it takes courage to do in the first place. Those who mock only wish they had what it took.

I don't have to prove to you the value of what I'm doing. We can argue back and forth about it and it isn't going to matter anyways...

Because I'm just going to go write about it later.

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Does MMA tarnish the legend of Bruce Lee?



It was the 1970's, and America was captivated by 6'+ heavyweight giants in boxing gloves pounding away at each other.  The old adage says "The bigger they are, the harder they fall".  And for the boxing promoters, the harder they fell, the more money they earned.  It was the time of Mohammed Ali, Joe Frazier, Sonny Liston & George Foreman.  America couldn't get enough of the spectacle of oversized African Americans trading punches for paychecks.

And as the fighting world's promoters employed techniques behind the scenes that would eventually rot the sport at it's very core, Hollywood executives were taking notice of a 5'7 chinese martial arts instructor gaining a reputation for being unbeatable.  Numerous run-ins with the law in China forced his parents to send him back to San Fransisco's Chinatown, his birth place, to set him along a better path.  He would travel the West Coast, from Seattle to Oakland, going to college and teaching interested students in his style of fighting.

20 something years later, I opened my eyes to Bruce Lee's "Enter the Dragon" poster.  It took me a few seconds to realize where I was.  It was my first ever sleepover, at a kid from the neighborhood named Victor's house who would end up becoming one of my best friends and brother, and I layed silent in the room for close to 20 minutes studying the poster hanging on the wall before me.  Unlike the greats fighting inside the ring, the man on the poster looked like somebody I could beat up myself, even at about 8 or 9 years old.

Bruce Lee's "Enter the Dragon" & "Fists of Fury" (along with several Jean Claude Van Damme movies such as "Bloodsport" and "Kickboxer", which we're a little more reluctant to admit) would serve as catalysts for about 1,000 fights/wrestling matches over the years, as everytime the last scene faded to black and the credits rolled, our adolescant adrenaline would be clicking on all cylinders and ready to prove to each other who was more on pace to be the next Bruce (or, ugh..  Jean Claude..  hey, we were young).

The thing that made Bruce Lee so captivating was that he was not chosen by nature to be as great a fighter as he was, like some of the boxing greats.  His tiny frame wasn't built with the intention of surviving damage, much less inflicting it.  But he studied every ancient form of fighting he could, and combined it with current, more mainstream fighting styles to create a unique point of attack.

While America was used to people dancing around and punching each other, Bruce was kicking, jumping, flipping & twisting his way into the world of fighting's spotlight.  Nothing had ever been seen quite like it.  It was so different, so unique...  And our inability to understand it actually added to it's aura.  Who really knew what this guy was capable of? For all we knew, he could tap us on our right nipple and explode our chest using some ancient Chinese nerve-busting finger technique. There was no way of seeing it's limitations. Until...

Enter Mixed Martial Arts

With the heart-breaking realization every young child has when he learns proffesional wrestling is all just a show, I can still remember the conversations about the discovery of the first VHS UFC tapes at the Malden Blockbuster.

"No dude, it's real.  There's no rules or anything.  These guys just beat the hell out of each other.  Even when they fall on the ground, they jump on each other and pound each other's faces in.  It's so cool!!"

I'm not quite sure which one of us found it first, but somehow we got our hands on UFC 1, and our world was about to change.  As the infrastructure of boxing crumbled due to greedy executives and promoters more worried about a quick buck than the future and sanctity of the sport, UFC started cranking out video after video of unknown, yet extremely intriguing, fights with nameless guys seemingly "risking their lives" to fight for respect over money as it payed much, much less than boxing at the time.

While the UFC spent years toiling in obscurity in the mainstream for views of it being "overly violent", it built a steady and loyal underground fanbase of people who could see the potential in a fighting style that allowed it's fighters to study any form of combat they chose and take it into the ring with them for use against an unsuspecting opponent.  The fans saw what it could become, but it needed people running the show seeing it too before it could really take off.

Dana White did.

Dana White and the Fertitta brothers purchased the UFC in 2001 and transformed it's marketing strategy from the heavily-criticized "Human Cockfighting" to a legitmate sport with incredible athletes.  The sport world would be flipped upside down as it grew in popularity with it's new marketing strategy alongside it's reality show "The Ultimate Fighter", focusing on wannabe UFC fighters vying for a contract.

Over the next few years, Mixed Martial Arts would become mainstream, and as it evolved, so did our knowledge of fighting.  The mysterious techniques and obscure fighting styles of Bruce Lee (or atleast similar styles, as his was unique unto him) were brought into the limelight, and we began to see the ends of their reach.

Part of Bruce Lee's legend was that his true capabilities were somewhat shrouded in mystery.  But has MMA brought them out of the shadows and onto a public stage?  We've watched athletes develop to the very best of their abilities in their respective categories for years now.  Can Bruce Lee really have been so ahead of his time that he had figured things out that modern day fighters cannot?

If we placed Bruce Lee in the cage with the likes of the Anderson Silva's, Fedor Emelienko's and Georges St. Pierre's, would he really have such an advantage over them because of his home-grown style that he could decimate them in the fashion his legend suggests?  Or has fighting evolved too drastically even beyond his abilities?

I think it's the latter.  Wanna fight about it?

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The human fascination with movies

The human fascination with movies





--Posted By:  Jay Abstract

Storytelling.

Our earliest ancestors painted on walls, ancient Greeks acted it out on stages, and present-day actors and actresses are paid obscene amounts to do it in front of cameras.  From as early as we have records, we have people telling tales of myth, legend & adventure.  Some true, some completely fabricated & some in between-  The fact still remains, we have a need inside of us to hear stories and events of completed trials and tribulations of our fellow people.

It's all about relation, and if a movie has your interest, it's because you relate to it in some way.  It may connect with something that happened in your past or something you wish to happen in your future.  Maybe it's your biggest fear and you want to see how the person in the story handles it, or maybe it's just something you never even thought of and you're wondering what you would do if you were placed in that situation.

While certain qualities of how well a movie is structured or written can't be denied, whether a movie is "good" or "bad" is an entirely subjective opinion and is based off of how you are relating to it's events in your subconscious.  Women tend to like love stories more because female brains are hardwired with an overwhelming desire to be loved, accepted and desired while guys tend to gravitate toward stories that satisfy their primal instinct to conquer, dominate and control.  These, of course, are complete opposite ends of a spectrum that most of us are somewhere in between.

Movies are reflections of life, and as you are watching them your mind is constantly figuring out if it relates the order of what's hapening on screen to what it's experienced in the past.  How many times have you been watching a movie and suddenly shouted out "That could NEVER happen!"?  Your brain has recognized an event that completely goes against what it can relate to.

Life is absolute chaos.  It's a mess of successes, disapointments, emotions, confusion and events that bleed together in a seemingly endless and shapeless splatterboard that requires us to organize in our heads, always searching for "true meanings" and "lessons learned", whereas movies organize the chaos for us.  They provide a similar verison of what we experience in a neat little package with a beginning, middle and end that we can understand, follow and sort out.  In real life, the camera does not stop rolling when the guy finally gets the girl and marries her...  He cheats on her 6 years later and leaves her a single parent with 3 children and an overwhelming mortgage payment, fighting for child support in court.

In movies we don't have to deal with this.  It's action-reaction-result and then it ends.  We can even go back and relive it exactly like it happened as many times as we want.  Try doing that with your ex.

This organized chaos also has another advantage over real life (Assuming of course it's a well-made movie):  There's not much down time.  The important times that progress the story are all we see.  We can see every important event in a family over 30 years in 2 hours.  We get to see the dork be a dork for the first 30 minutes and then the cool guy with his dream girl for the next 90, and then it's over.  We don't have to sit through 4 years of his transformation period to see what results from it.

Movies capture our imagination for different reasons, but we all want to see someone win or lose.  And the reasons why are always more personal than we realize.  Whether you root for the good guy or the bad guy, you're hoping for an outcome, and it's going to be delivered to you in a neat presentation.

So just sit back and enjoy the story.  Or if you're like me, go out and create it.

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A fair look at Hip Hop: From misunderstood beginnings to becoming the misunderstanding



--Posted by: Jay Abstract

Much to my father's dismay, I've always been a radio hog. Even since my younger years, barely old enough to see over the snow-covered dashboard, the second that seatbelt clicked in and we pulled out onto icy I-95 for the drive home- I was in control.

It was the 90's- The Golden Era of Rap- And I couldn't have been more hooked. While my father couldn't have been more disgusted.

" 9 to 5 is how you survive, I'm not tryna survive, I'm tryna live it to the limit and love it a lot. "
- Jay Z

Lyrics like that filled my head with dreams of pursuing your passion and succeeding despite all odds, while the center console in the car served as the midpoint of 2 complete opposite ends of a spectrum- My father's thought process and my own- Neither right nor wrong, just stemming from a different base experience of the human existence.

"Do you really like listening to a guy putting down people like me and your mom who work regular jobs to keep food on the table and clothes on your back? This guy's on the radio bragging about how much more he has than you- Do you really find that interesting to listen to?".

I did.

I related to Jay-Z not because I came from the same struggle as him. I was raised a prime example of middle-class: Well fed, well clothed, I had the best childhood anyone could ask for.

But like Jay-Z, I always wanted more. It didn't matter if our starting points were different, because our destination goals were the same. I had a desire to achieve greatness.

Now I have to admit, my hip hop obsession back then was a bit of a blind following of the "In" thing at the moment. I gave every artist in the genre a pass no matter what they were saying, frankly because it sounded too cool to doubt.

However, as I grew and matured, and the music seemed to go in the opposite direction, I began to feel less and less of a connection to it as what had attracted me in the first place seemed to slip away more and more and be less prevalent in songs- Originality.

It is the realization that this music is on it's last leg that forces me to have to explain how it got this way. It is a wounded dog limping between the legs of it's unsure master, shotgun in hand. Current day Hip Hop doesn't stand a chance to the fan who goes into it with an unobjective opinion, giving it the benefit of the doubt to see what it can offer.

Hip Hop has become a portrayal of character archetypes. But it wasn't always this way...

The Beginning

Hip Hop is a culture that sprouts forth from seeds planted in slavery. From a people who have been told since their birth that they are lazy, sick, worthless, inferior & stupid. New words such as the N word have even been created for the sole purpose of defining their inferiority.

Positively outnumbered and unsuccesful in the "No I'm not", "Yes you are" merry go-round, Hip Hop did an interesting thing. Instead of fighting it, it flipped the tables and turned the negatives into positives.

If they were the N word, then that was a positive thing. If they were dumb, then that was as well.

" I was dumb glad, this **** didn't fit in one bag "
-Big L

"Why are they calling each other the N word but they get mad when someone else says it?", my father would ask. And believe me when I tell you, the reasoning goes much deeper than one word ending in 'a' and the other in 'er'.

Artists have been successful at converting their negative experiences into positive ones for decades. Artists such as Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Common & Lupe Fiasco spin musical tales of overcomming the worst of circumstances.

Of course, not all artists in the genre wanted to end it at turning their negative experiences into positive ones. Others wanted to show you exactly what you, as their oppressor, had created. It was a big middle finger to the America that had forced them into such a dismal existance.

Enter Gangster Rap

Artists such as NWA popularized a violent musical culture that would take the world by storm. There is a reason 90% of news stories are about negative events. It attracts attention. And this is exactly what gangster rap did as middle-class Americans all over the country couldn't turn away as a life they had never even dreamed of unfolded in front of their eyes in every form of creation the senses could take in- Audio, Video, Literature, etc.

This would eventually culminate in the assassination of 2 of the gangster rap genre's biggest and most influential stars- Tupac Shakur & Christopher "Notorious BIG" Wallace, 2 former friends caught up in a partly media-influenced East Coast-West Coast rivalry that would eventually claim both their lives in the late 90's.

The music industry, like any other, requires money and financial backing to run, and the front page of the Boston Globe returns a lot more on their investment than an article in the obituary column, and thus began the slow decline of the original, free speech music of Hip Hop. It hadn't been perfect to this point, but it was original.

The Southern Takeover

It wouldn't be long until the "Party Anthem" and "Club Banger" era arrived in the early 2000's, ushered in primarily from artists in the southern regions of the country. It was at this point rap became more and more characterized- Archetypes of the gangster, pimp & loose female.

Characterization makes marketing simpler for the record companies, who now get rich off an image that deteriorates an entire community. There's no more free speech, there's just similar character types of the individuals that once did really speak their mind before labels stepped in and forced them to "dumb it down".

Hip Hop has now become exactly what my father had previously thought it was, and I find myself with less and less ground to stand on as I have to quote time periods now nearly a decade old to prove my points, even losing my own connection to it as time progresses forward.

Will I end up like my own father, constantly quoting the music of my "glory days" while trying to convince my son why my music's better than his generations?

Maybe..

But I can tell you, I will definitely speak freely when I do it...

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